By Tommy Keeler Jr.
WOODSTOCK -- Clarke County coach Brent Emmart knew his tough schedule was going to pay off. Even with the Eagles starting off 0-5 on the season, Emmart had plenty of confidence in his squad.
On Tuesday night, the Eagles started out fast and didn't look back in a 67-48 win over Central in the Bull Run District season opener for both teams.
"I told the guys what didn't kill us early on in the season makes us stronger for games like this," Emmart said. "Playing those tough nondistrict games made us ready for district play. We've lost some tight ones. So, we needed a win tonight just to boost morale."
The Eagles raced out to a 15-5 lead in the first quarter, aided by 3-pointers from Sean McDonald and Anderson King. Clarke County was able to keep the lead in double-digits most of the game.
Clarke County (1-5, 1-0) used an 8-2 run in the second quarter to extend the lead to 23-10 with 5:22 left in the first half.
Central rallied behind the play of Travis Cooper and Hayden Bauserman. The pair combined for all eight points during an 8-2 run to close the half and cut the lead to 29-20.
McDonald took over in the second half for the Eagles, as he had 19 of his career-high 26 points to keep the Falcons from getting back in the game. McDonald hit five 3-pointers, on 5-for-7 shooting from outside the arc.
"He's missed some shots," Emmart said. " I told him to keep shooting, good shooters keep shooting. I told him he might have a game where three or four might go in a row, and it will change his whole outlook. He really picked it up for us tonight."
Every time the Falcons (2-2, 0-1) made a run, the Eagles answered with one of their own. Central trailed by as many as 17 in the third quarter, but closed the period with a 3-pointer by Wyatt Hitt and a layup by Cooper to cut the lead to 48-36.
McDonald hit consecutive 3-pointers to start the fourth quarter to help the Eagles pull away for good.
Throughout the game the Eagles were able to push the ball up quickly, while the Falcons were slow getting back, leading to easy baskets.
"We never got back on defense that was a big issue and too many second chance points," Central coach Mickey Clinedinst said. "That was the two main factors. You cut that stuff out then you're in the game."
Todd Benton and Davey Hardesty each had 10 points for the Eagles.
Emmert said the Eagles have to put the early-season losses behind them and focus on the district.
"I told the guys before the game that our schedule prepared us for tonight," Emmart said. "The only thing really matters to us is we're 1-0 in the district. Those nondistrict games are history, we gotta move on and get better every game."
Cooper finished with a team-high 16 points, while Bauserman added nine for the Falcons.
Central got off to a late start to the season, due to the football team's successful season. The Falcons went 2-1 last week, and Clinedinst said he told his team after the game they need to do the same this week. His biggest concern was with his team's defense.
"The bottom line is we gotta play much better defense," Clinedinst said. " You're going to struggle some nights on offense but your defense ought to be consistent."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or email@example.com