CARNESVILLE — Jackson County’s Kalib Clinton enjoyed another big night, but the Panthers struggled to find other offensive outlets.
Clinton scored 27 points, with the rest of the lineup combining for just nine points, as the Panthers suffered a 52-36 setback Tuesday (Jan. 21) at Franklin County.
“We ask a lot of him (Clinton),” Jackson County coach Ty Baumgardner said. “We’re trying to get some of those other guys to improve offensively, but it’s going to take a lot of time.”
The Lions, ranked No. 10 in Class AAA, had played shorthanded for multiple games due to injuries but were bolstered in the post Tuesday with the return of 6-4, 255-pound center Keylan Rutledge. Rutledge scored 13 points, as did Micah Roebuck, to lead the Lions.
“They’re good,” Baumgardner said of Franklin County. “They’re ranked in the state for a reason. They’ve got a senior-laden team, and they play like seniors, so it is what it is.”
Jackson County has its moments early.
The Panthers led 20-17 with 5:09 left in the second quarter after Kedric Zimmer hit a short jumper. But Clinton would score all but one of Jackson County’s baskets the rest of the way.
A 12-1 Lion run erased Jackson County’s second-quarter lead, putting the Panthers behind 29-21 at the half. Franklin County then scored the first three baskets of the third quarter, including a steal and score from Titlan Wells, to increase the deficit to 35-21.
The Lions led by double figures the rest of the way.
With Jackson County struggling to score in the fourth quarter, Franklin County’s lead grew to 20 points (52-32) with 4:35 left in the game.
Following a basket from Jackson County’s Nik Dennis, Franklin County held the ball and proceeded to nearly milk the remaining 4:00 of the clock. The possession ended with a turnover with 30 seconds remaining.
Clinton capped his night with a viscous dunk in the closing seconds.
Jackson County, which hosts Morgan County Friday (Jan. 24, 8:30 p.m.), has four games remaining before the region tournament.
Baumgardner said he hopes to see continued improvement from his team the rest of the way.
“I hate saying it because it’s just such a coaching cliché, but just try to get a little bit better every day,” he said. “We’ve been close in a lot of games. We just have a quarter here or there, or we can’t close it out at the end … So, the biggest thing is to continue to try to get better every day and keep competing and see what happens.”