While the final score wasn’t memorable, Jackson County’s loss to Hart County wasn’t without a milestone.
Star post player Kalib Clinton notched his 1,000th-career point Tuesday (Dec. 3) in the Panthers’ 61-26 setback to the No. 5-ranked Bulldogs.
Clinton reached the mark in just the fourth game of his junior season with a 3-pointer from the corner late in the third quarter.
“Obviously, to do that in your fourth game in your junior season, that’s pretty good,” Jackson County coach Ty Baumgardner said. “That’s impressive. That says a lot. He’s got quite a few rebounds as well. It’s a nice accomplishment for him.”
Clinton, who is averaging 24.5 points per game, led the Panthers (1-3) with 17 points.
The night, however, belonged to Hart County, which moved to 2-0 behind 24 points from Shone Webb.
Webb threw an early alley-oop pass to 6-foot-6 freshman Tahj Johnson, who slammed it home as part of an 11-2 Bulldog run to start the game.
Webb later poured in 11 points during a stretch of 3:30 in the second quarter to help Hart County take a 28-10 lead into halftime. The Bulldogs scored 14 of the first 17 points of the third quarter to build a 42-13 advantage. Hart County added to its large lead in the final frame, closing the game on a 10-2 run in a 35-point win.
“They’re good,” Baumgardner said. “They’re very good. They’ll have a chance to win it all. But that was men against little boys — bottom line."
Baumgardner said he was “disappointed in our fight” in Tuesday’s loss after his team had beaten Stephens County in its most recent outing.
“I was really just disappointed with how soft we were and how we let them dictate everything and didn’t compete like we did the previous game,” he said.
Baumgardner added his team had improved in each game until this point.
“We regressed; we regressed terribly tonight,” he said.
The Jackson County boys return to action Friday at Monroe Area (8:30 p.m.). Baumgardner stressed toughness moving forward.
“We’ve got to get tougher,” he said. “That display tonight, we were just soft, very soft. No fight. Every team in this region is not going to be as good probably as Hart County with the exception of Jefferson, maybe, but they’re good. Every team in this region is going to have better athletes, more talent, better basketball players than us. So, we’ve got to be tougher and smarter and execute our game to have any kind of chance. We didn’t even come close to that tonight.”
HART CO. 49, JACKSON CO. 29 (GIRLS)
In Julie McCutcheon’s second game as Jackson County’s interim girls’ coach, the Panthers fell 49-29 to Hart County Tuesday (Dec. 3), losing pace with the Bulldogs after a big second half from last year’s Class AAA runners-up.
Jackson County trailed just 21-15 at the half, but were outscored 21-4 in the third quarter.
“They came out and hit some big shots to put them ahead,” McCutcheon said, “and that’s when we went cold. Our percentage shooting tonight had to be pretty bad.”
Carson Anderson led Jackson County with 10 points.
McCutcheon, who served as Jackson County’s girls’ coach from 2013-17, has stepped in to coach the team after the sudden resignation of first-year coach Aaron Schuck two weeks ago.
Given the quick transition, the team hasn’t had much time to focus solely on shooting in practice, McCutcheon explained. Practices had centered more on team-building and prepping for upcoming opponents.
“I told them that’s on me,” McCutcheon said. “We’ll come back in starting tomorrow with full-speed shooting drills just to give us an opportunity to get some shots up.”
McCutcheon said the team has weathered the change well overall. She coached most of the roster at the middle school level or during her final year as the high school head coach, so there’s familiarity between her and the roster.
“We know each other,” she said. “I’ve coached all these kids except about three of them. I think they feel comfortable in knowing that we’re going to do this. I’m not going to let them down or let them go. They’ve responded, and I’m very proud of them.”
Jackson County returns to action Friday (Dec. 6) at Monroe Area at 7 p.m.