After trailing for most of the game, the Clear Falls Knights stunned the Stratford Spartans with a furious late-game comeback to claim a 68-60 home victory in non-district action Saturday afternoon.
“We just played a whole lot harder in the fourth than we did in the first three quarters,” Clear Falls head boys basketball coach Blake Joy said. “Our thinking was a lot more unselfish in the fourth quarter.”
The Knights were behind 57-46 late in the third quarter, but a 3-pointer splashed in from Tyler Sillen-Hopkins made the score 57-49 heading into the final period and sparked what would go on to be a 9-0 Clear Falls run.
A pair of buckets from Junior Horton and a lay-in from Carson Lindsey got the Knights’ deficit down to 57-55, but Stratford responded with a 3-point play the old-fashioned way converted by Keanu Dawes.
Led by clutch stops on defense, Clear Falls ended the game with a flurry, though, in the final 2 minutes.
Lindsey swiped a ball away from Stratford and cashed in a fast-break layup, and that was followed by a corner 3-pointer from Sillen-Hopkins to knot the game at 60-60.
Back-to-back steals from Horton resulted in baskets down low from Alex Matthews and Austin Navarro to give Clear Falls a 64-60 lead inside of 1 minute left to play.
“The timing of the plays he made were big, and it was really big because he struggled in the third quarter; we took him out in the third quarter, and we almost never take him out,” Joy said of Horton’s late heroics. “We took him out for a couple minutes, and he came back, settled in and just made play after play after play.”
Another steal-turned-layup for Lindsey on the Spartans’ next possession proved to be the dagger, and Horton later knocked down two free throws to ensure there would be no possibility for Stratford to get back in the game.
“The entire team finally played tough in the fourth quarter, and it was great to see,” Joy said. “We just kind of buckled down and did what we needed to do.”
Two made free throws from Matthews gave the Knights an early 8-5 edge in the first quarter, but the Spartans reeled off a 10-2 run to take a lead they would hold onto for the majority of the game.
Two 3-pointers from Garrett Dudley fueled the key run, with a pair of Knights turnovers resulting in layups for Everett Bates and Jameson Cronin, as well.
Stratford held a 22-15 lead after the first quarter and maintained that advantage in the second quarter for a 37-30 score at halftime.
Horton’s 19 points led Clear Falls, followed by 14 points apiece for Lindsey and Navarro, and 13 points for Sillen-Hopkins. Matthews rounded out the Knights’ scoring with eight points and had four blocked shots.
Nine different Spartans players scored for Stratford, led by Dudley’s 14 points.
Clear Falls is scheduled to return to the court 7 p.m. Tuesday at home against Langham Creek.
OTHER SATURDAY BOYS BASKETBALL SCORES
Deer Park 54, Santa Fe 42
Clear Brook 64, Hitchcock 48
SATURDAY BOYS BASKETBALL CANCELLATIONS
Clear Creek at Texas City
Alvin at Clear Springs
SATURDAY GIRLS BASKETBALL CANCELLATION
Alvin at Dickinson