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Published: Saturday, 12/11/2004

Bulldogs top Clay

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Scott's Darrion Griffin and Clay's Wes Taylor (34) and A.J. Achter (12) compete for a rebound last night. Griffin had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the unbeaten Bulldogs. Scott's Darrion Griffin and Clay's Wes Taylor (34) and A.J. Achter (12) compete for a rebound last night. Griffin had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the unbeaten Bulldogs.
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A couple of familiar Joes hooked up last night, with one in a hurry on the road while the other was content with a more leisurely pace at home.

In the end, the tempo war went to first-year Scott coach Joe Suboticki's Bulldogs, who took a 65-56 City League victory over Joe Guerrero's Clay Eagles before a packed crowd at Clay.

Clay (4-1, 2-1 CL) led 44-43 after three quarters, and was still within three points (54-51) when 6-5 senior post player Wes Taylor scored from inside with 2:42 remaining in the game.

But the Bulldogs (4-0, 3-0) found their pace, kept their composure, and closed things out with an 11-5 run down the stretch.

"We showed good patience," Suboticki said of the finish. "We've been working on end-of-the-game situations, and I thought we handled that.

"We hit some free throws, we didn't force any shots and we didn't make any dumb plays.

"It resulted in us getting a win."

The meeting was the sixth in two-plus seasons for Suboticki, who prefers the up-tempo game, and Guerrero, who utilizes a deliberate offensive scheme.

The coaches met five times in the prior two seasons while Suboticki was at Waite.

"We knew coming in that it was a battle of two different styles," Guerrero said.

"And I told our guys that the team that dictated tempo was going to win the game. "They were able to dictate tempo for longer periods of time than we were."

Kenneth Byrd, a 6-3 senior forward, topped Scott with 17 points and nine rebounds, and 6-4 senior forward Darrion Griffin added 14 points and 10 boards for the Bulldogs.

"That's probably the best game Byrd's played so far, and we needed it," Suboticki said. "He hit the boards hard, and Griffin played his usual [good] game."

Scott secured things by hitting 7-of-12 free throws in the final

1:55 after Byrd's crucial up-and-

under layup put his team up 56-51 with 2:20 left.

Scott's win offset the solid play of Taylor, who had a game-high 24 points and added eight rebounds.

Taylor was freed up a bit by a Scott defense which focused primarily on neutralizing Clay's 6-2 senior All-City forward Brett McDougle. He finished with eight points and nine rebounds.

"You've got to give them something when you take away their best, and hopefully what's left doesn't beat you," Suboticki said.

The deciding factors in an otherwise close game were clear to Guerrero.

"I wish I would've subbed more early," Guerrero said.

"I thought we were pretty tired down the stretch.

"We missed a couple key foul shots, we had a couple key turnovers, which is a credit to their press, and I thought all of those things added up to make the difference in a tight game with two very good teams.

"Our game, so far, has been playing under control and controlling tempo, and I thought the game got a little too fast in spurts.

"That's what they wanted to do, and that's what they're capable of doing.

"We had a couple bad spurts where we could have built our lead or kept it close, and they were able to make runs that turned the tide."

The Bulldogs took the lead for good (47-45) on Griffin's 15-footer from the right baseline

1:12 into the fourth quarter.

Byrd scored seven on his 17 points in the final period.

"We rebounded real good and slowed the game down because we had the lead," Byrd said of Scott's success late.

"We were real prepared for their defense.

"We were looking to get the ball in the middle and throw it to the opposite side, and go in for the layup.

"I got some offensive rebounds, played defense, and knocked down a couple shots. This was a real big win."

Scott was a balanced 13-of-28 from the field in each half (26-of-56 for game), matched Clay's 11-of-17 effort from the foul line, edged the Eagles in rebounding 33-32, and committed 19 turnovers while forcing 23.

Clay was 22-of-51 from the field, including a dismal 3-of-10 in the final eight minutes.

Contact Steve Junga at:

sjunga@theblade.com

or 419-724-6461.



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