It’s easy to be skeptical about the Sayre Spartans. They’ve come into the 42nd District tournament with a good record before and been dispensed with easily over the years.
Welcome to a new Sayre. The hard-charging Spartans stood toe-to-toe with a Henry Clay team that beat them by 16 earlier this season and pulled away to a 68-61 victory in Wednesday’s opening round at Bryan Station.
“I can’t tell you what it means,” an emotional Sayre Coach Robert Goodman said after the game. “It means so much. We’ve worked so hard for so long to belong in this city. And now, we finally feel like we belong and people are noticing it. It’s hard to explain.”
Jake Duby led the way, scoring 37 points and nine rebounds. His three-point play with 1:15 left in the game put the Spartans up 63-53 and sealed the victory. R.J. Smith chipped in 17 points and grabbed 11 boards.
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“Yes, those (two, Duby and Smith) are workhorses, night in, night out, but there’s so many guys on this team that have contributed all year long.” Goodman said. “It took so much hard work to get to this point.”
With the game close most of the first three periods, Henry Clay’s second-leading scorer, Keaston Brown, a junior and Coach Daniel Brown’s son, fell awkwardly midway through the third period. He stayed down for several moments. When he got up, he was holding his wrist gingerly. He did not return to the game.
Andreus Green led the Blue Devils with 25 points and 17 rebounds. With the game tied at the end of three quarters at 43-43, Sayre would outscore Henry Clay 15-4 over the next six minutes with Duby scoring eight points, including four foul shots.
Henry Clay 50, Bryan Station 45: Nothing has come easy for the Henry Clay’s girls’ basketball team this season, so when an 11 point lead evaporated in the third period, Coach Eric Sanford knew his Blue Devils had the grit to gut out a 50-45 win over Bryan Station in the 42nd District semifinals.
“These kids have battled all year,” Sanford said. “They’ve seen everything. They’ve seen the best in the state. They’ve seen players get hurt, players out. They know what we do, but we continue to press on … and that’s what we did tonight.
The Devils (15-14) were without two playerswho were suspended following an altercation against Tates Creek last week. Nevertheless, they jumped all over Bryan Station at the onset, building a 16-2 lead as the Defenders missed their first nine shots.
But down 38-27 midway through the third, the Defenders (12-17) mounted an 11-0 run with senior guard Carah Burdette’s seven points leading the way. Sophomore guard Kelynn Clay tied the game with a 15-footer to cap the rally and tie the game at 38-38 with 13 seconds left in the third period.
Henry Clay didn’t flinch. Sophomore guard Destyne Jackson coolly put back a miss to put the Devils back up two. Henry Clay junior Braxton Price and Jackson then opened the fourth with back-to-back buckets.
Kiya Thompson followed with a deep three-pointer from the right wing that pushed the cushion back out to 47-38 in less than two minutes. Bryan Station could cut it no closer than four points the rest of the way.
“It means everything,” Jackson said of the win. “It’s good that our team came out and fought the way we did. It shows what we’re able to do with two players out. Keep fighting. Don’t give up. Just keep pushing.”
Sayre 68, Henry Clay 61
Sayre (68) — Silverburg 6, Duby 37, Smith 17, Goodman 4, Newton 4.
Henry Clay (61) — Jackson 4, Ford 3, Brown 9, Mitchell 15, R. Jackson 4, Green 25, Bean 1.
Henry Clay 50,
Bryan Station 45
Bryan Station (45) — Hardin 2, Washington 1, Burdette 19, Martin 13, Clay 6, Baczkowski 4.
Henry Clay (50) — Gatewood 2, Jackson 14 Price 5, Long 13, Thomspon 14 Williams 2.
42nd District Tournament finals at Bryan Station
Girls: Scott Co. vs. Henry Clay, 6 p.m.
Boys: Scott Co. vs. Sayre, 8 p.m.