The gym was packed at Cleveland for a Wednesday night rivalry match up with cross town Clayton. It is always the talk of the town when the Rams and Comets get together in any sport. Both teams really needed a win coming into this game after starting 0-2 in conference play.
The game started off with a lot of tension, and it was very fast paced due to the lack of offensive rebounding for both teams. Clayton went 3-3 from beyond the arc in the first quarter to jump out to a 9-0 lead. The Rams went on to score 8 unanswered to end the first quarter on a hot streak. Both sides were antsy at the start, but the pressure wore off, and the pace picked up to start the second quarter.
The Rams fixed their rebounding issues and scored 7 second chance points, which does not sound too impressive, but they only scored 13 total in the second quarter. The Rams started their scoring in the quarter when Hamilton Harrison hit both his free throws after being fouled. Clayton went on a 10-0 run to take their biggest lead of the game at 19-9. The Rams coach Jeff Davis had enough of the onslaught and decided to call a timeout. Coach Davis was visibly frustrated with the effort on the defensive end and decided to put in his tall lineup. Cleveland took the coach’s words as a wake up call and put up 12 unanswered to end the half. Zack Matthews took it personally and put up 7 of the team’s 12 to end the half.
Clayton’s head coach Denny Medlin was not happy with the Comets defense going into the second half. The Comets fixed their defense in the third quarter and held the Rams to just 9 points in the quarter. The back and forth pace kept up throughout the game, but this time it was not due to poor play. If either team got a shot off, it was good. The Rams caught the turnover bug to start the half and Clayton capitalized on the opportunities. The other downfall for Cleveland was unnecessary fouls. The Rams collapse left them nine points down with only a quarter left to play.
The crowd started to get behind their hometown Rams, and the energy in the gym increased. Cleveland capitalized on ball movement and rebounding to take a three point lead with three minutes to go. Coach Medlin for the Comets called timeout for a last chance idea, and it worked in their favor. The Comets went into the full court press, and the Rams folded under the pressure. A free throw from Justin Bell put them on top, and they never looked back.
Clayton took game one of the season series between these two rivals. The Rams are now 0-3 to start GNRC play and only have three home games remaining in the season. The Rams host their oldest rival, West Johnston, at home on Friday, January 25. Cleveland already beat the Wildcats handily in the John Jacobs Classic during the Christmas holiday. Clayton continues conference play against SSS on Friday, January 25.