HARDIN VALLEY — Hardin Valley Academy boys basketball head coach Shane Chambers said that he knew exactly what his team would see when Clinton came calling last week.
He and the Hawks saw a team in the Dragons who make a habit out of launching shots from beyond the 3-point arc.
The Dragons knocked down 13 three-point shots and left HVA with a 67-60 victory Thursday, Feb 13.
“We knew their gameplan coming in. We knew that they were going to shoot 3’s,” Chambers said. “But we just didn’t do a good job defending them.
“You can’t give a team like that confidence on the road. Unfortunately, we gave them that confidence. We just need to play better,” he added.
The Dragons (14-12) were without starting point guard Evan Winchester, but Clinton’s other players stepped up in Winchester’s absence.
But the Hawks, who followed that with a loss to Knoxville West Friday, Feb. 14, hung tough and were only down 49-45 heading into the fourth quarter. Skyler O’Neal converted a pair of free throws to pull the Hawks (13-14) to within 49-47 with 7 minutes, 52 seconds remaining in the final frame.
However, the Hawks wouldn’t come any closer in a game that got extremely physical at times.
“This was a good game for us,” said Hardin Valley senior forward Avery Sonenshein, who finished with 14 points, including 10 in the second quarter to keep the Hawks within striking distance. “We knew they were tough and we knew that they were going to get physical and they did.”
Hudson Stokes had 13 points and made three shots from beyond the 3-point arc for the Hawks, who trailed 35-31 at halftime. O’Neal added 12. Jack Niezgoda had seven and Justin Sharp finished with six.
But it was the Dragons who manufactured points from all over the floor on this night.
Dragons freshman Jackson Garner led all scorers with 22 points, making six 3-pointers.
Chase Lockard added 13 points. Trace Wandell had 10. Trace Thackerson scored nine and RiShon Bright finished with eight.
Chambers said that the Dragons helped his squad prepare for the postseason.
“It’s good to play a team like Clinton, even if it’s late in the year, because they’re good. They’re physical and they’re tough,” he said. “There’s a reason why we schedule these games, a reason why we schedule like we do.
“We schedule these games to get us ready for the district tournament.”
Clinton coach Chris Lockard said that the Hawks provided his team with a challenge to close out the regular season.
“This was a great team win for us,” he said. “Hardin Valley is a good team. They’re tough and they’re one of the toughest teams in our region.
“This was a great game. It got physical at times and at other times, it was skill-oriented.”