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Highlanders capture at least second place with win at Clinton in wild game

CLINTON, Tenn.  |  A long pass to enabled Scott High to run out the final tick of a controversial game here Friday, touching off a celebration among the Highlander players and large contingency of fans who had followed them on the road, as Scott wrapped up at least a second place finish in District 4-3A.

Scott High held off a Clinton surge to defeat the Dragons, 48-47, on a night when the three-man officiating crew were the least popular people in the building.

The game ended with Clinton coach Don Lockard following the referees to the exit for one last tirade after a surreal, extended in-game confrontation that left the Dragons’ coach on the playing floor and had Scott High coaches and fans begging for a technical foul to be called.

In the end, no call was made, but it was Clinton’s turn to be incensed — Lockard was first upset that a five-second violation wasn’t called on the defensive end before Scott High coach Rusty Yaden used a time out, then that an official overturned an out-of-bounds call in Scott’s favor — after it was the Highlander faithful who were up in arms for most of the game.

After a girls game that saw Clinton hold a 30 to 7 free throw advantage in the second half, the questionable nature of the whistles carried over to the boys game. had another big game for the Highlanders, finishing with 17 points and 13 rebounds, but fouled out in the fourth quarter after a series of controversial charge calls that began in the first half.

Strunk also had a team-high four steals, and was named the Trophy Masters Hustle Award winner.

Clinton’s defensive focus was to shut down , and the Dragons did that exceptionally well, holding the Highlanders’ leading scorer without a single point, the first time that has been accomplished by any defense this season.

Scott High similarly attacked Clinton’s Jeremiah Lee, using a box-and-one with drawing the assignment as the primary defender. Lee was limited to just four points in the first half, and finished the game with 12.

Babb, meanwhile, scored 10 points, one of three Highlanders in double figures.

, who has been a steady and consistent free throw shooter this season started off with some struggles from the line, but hit six straight free throws down the stretch to help the Highlanders pull out the win. He finished with 12 points and was named the First National Bank Player of the Game.

had seven points and nine rebounds.

The Highlanders built a 10-point lead in the first half, then saw Clinton roar back to take the lead in the fourth quarter. It was a back-and-forth final few minutes, but Jeffers proved to be the difference-maker. Babb also had a key 3-point shot in the waning minutes. He was the only Highlander to score from the perimeter, hitting two 3-pointers in the game.

Clinton hit a 3-point shot to cut it to a two-point game with just seconds remaining, using its last time out to stop the clock. But Jeffers hit both ends of a one-and-one free throw situation after being intentionally fouled, and Yaden instructed his team to back off and let Clinton score, since the Dragons were powerless to stop the clock again.

Lee hit a 3-pointer with under two seconds remaining, but Lockard called a time out from the bench, stopping the clock with nine-tenths of a second remaining. By rule, an automatic technical foul is to be assessed when a team calls a time out with none remaining. 

No technical foul was assessed, and although one official called for the clock to continue running, he was overruled, and the Highlanders were forced to get the ball in bounds once last time before the final horn sounded.

The teams went through the handshake line without incident, but there was a confrontation at mid-court afterwards, with the P.A. announcer ordering the court to be cleared and announcing that fans had five minutes to leave the building.

With the win, the Highlanders will finish at least second in the District 4 standings. Scott faces Halls on Monday; a win would create a two-way tie atop the standings.

SCOTT (48): Strunk 17, Jeffers 12, Babb 10, Garrett 7, Woodward 2.

CLINTON (47): Lee 12, Booker 12, Bolinger 8, Dorsey 6, Ba. Maddox 4, Ison 3, Br. Maddox 2.

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