Clay blasts Christmas tourney

By Ray DiMonda
Posted 1/3/18

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – At the 6th annual Blue Devil Winter Classic, the Clay Blue Devil Boys Basketball team broke out the heavy-duty hand tools to dig themselves a nice 31-26 hole to put themselves …

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Clay blasts Christmas tourney


GREEN COVE SPRINGS – At the 6th annual Blue Devil Winter Classic, the Clay Blue Devil Boys Basketball team broke out the heavy-duty hand tools to dig themselves a nice 31-26 hole to put themselves in during the first half of play against the Fernandina Beach Pirates (7-6). “Going into the Holiday break, I gave them a little bit more time off than I normally do, so I was a little leery of that and I think it showed in the first half” said Clay Head Coach Jared Moses.

At the half, Moses challenged his crew to fire their own cannons up and get physical. In the second half, it was a completely different Clay team on the court. Clay used pure brute strength to play the boards, come down with the ball over and over again, and rebounded their way to a blistering 60-47 stomping of the Pirates on the opening evening of tournament play on Thurs., Dec. 28.

On Friday, Clay beat Cornerstone Christian 58-43 to set up a third game with Franklin County (FL).

Fernandina Beach was beat by Bartram Trail 58-36 before beating Cornerstone 66-64 on Saturday. Bartram Trail had a 60-24 win over Ridgeview on Saturday. Ridgeview finished with a 51-37 win over Franklin County with Franklin County dressing out just five players and losing one to fouls in the fourth quarter.

Against Fernandina Beach, Clay started very slow with no one scoring for almost two minutes and Clay held off the scoreboard until the 5:20 mark left in the first quarter of play. Clay found itself down as far as nine points more than once before finally finding a few key three pointers. Slowly the sleeping giant was awakened.

“I got with a couple of my seniors… we kind of had to right the ship,” said Moses about his halftime chat. “We’ve got athletes and we want to play fast. We made one or two quick adjustments and got back on the floor and warmed up”.

Moses chat worked as the Blue Devils came out guns blazing to start the second half.

The Blue Devils began slashing apart the Pirate defense with quick sharp passes, finding the open man and moving the ball inside for quick scores. At the other end of the court, Clay caught fire by going beast mode. Anytime the Pirates tried to go inside again, Clay slid defenders and doubled the shooter. Fernandina used several time outs to try to adjust to the Clay attack, but Clay stayed a step ahead and shifted tactics over and over. The result was missed Pirate shots and Blue Devil rebounds. Once Clay had the ball, the blazing passes up court spun the Pirates heads backwards. Before they knew what hit them, with one-minute left in the third, the Pirates watched an Ajay Belanger three-pointer drain to tie the score at 38. With 22 seconds left in the quarter, Kijan Boone hit a three-pointer from the top right of the field to finally get Clay ahead 41-38. Belanger would add another rebounded inside shot to give Clay a 43-38 lead at quarter’s end.

In the fourth, Clay tightened their grip, walking the Pirates right down the plank. The physical play stepped up again and Clay found themselves up three, then five and finally by a dozen as the Pirates lost their aim and missed the target over and over. Before getting subs into the game, Clay had built a 15-point lead. Belanger accepted the challenge Coach Moses proposed and led his team with 21 points including four 3-pointers. Kijan Boone was right behind with nine points on the night, two 3-pointers.


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