Henry Clay exploited its advantages in size and experience in a 65-52 victory over host Bryan Station in a district boys' basketball battle Wednesday night.
But Bryan Station Coach Mike Allen thought the 13th-rated Blue Devils' biggest edge was their smallest starter: 5-foot-8 Wes Kimball.
"The key to the game was they have an outstanding point guard," Allen said.
"That kid has a very high basketball IQ. He made all the right plays. He's a very good player and tough to handle."
Kimball had 17 points and three assists, but his worth went well beyond numbers. He had no turnovers while handling the ball against the Defenders' pressure defense.
When Bryan Station made a late run, trimming a 10-point deficit to three (50-47) with three minutes left, Kimball steadied Henry Clay.
"We made the plays because we have a really good point guard," said Kendrick Prewitt, who led the Devils with 20 points. "He got us good looks down the stretch. He's the big reason we were able to win tonight."
Henry Clay also got a solid game from 6-6 senior Daniel Kiesling, who had nine points and 14 rebounds. He helped the winners to a 36-26 edge on the boards.
The Devils also converted shots when they needed them. They hit 65 percent in the second half, and 55 percent for the game.
Bryan Station, on the other hand, struggled to score because of 37 percent shooting.
Otis Webb was an exception. He came off the bench to get 17 points, including four three-pointers, two of which he banked in.
Larry Morton, Marcus Williams and Deon Renfro had 10 points apiece for the Defenders.
Despite their shooting woes — they missed several gimme layups — the hosts still made it close until Henry Clay pulled away with a 13-2 spurt in the closing minutes.
"One positive was that when we got down, our kids kept fighting," Allen said.
Henry Clay Coach Daniel Brown credited his team's experience for its cool under fire.
"I think this was the 80th (varsity) game for our seniors," he said. "They've been through a lot of tough situations. They showed a lot of calmness and were very poised down the stretch.
"We stuck to the game plan and attacked the rim."
But Brown also noted the contributions of freshmen Jordan Green and Trey Grundy, who combined for 13 points, all in the second half, and 12 rebounds.
Henry Clay beat Bryan Station by 25 points in early December, but Brown figured the rematch would be close.
That's the history of this rivalry. The Devils and Defenders have played 131 times since 1952, and Bryan Station leads the series 66-65.
"That just tells you about the tradition and parity of these programs," Brown said.
"Any time Henry Clay and Bryan Station play, I expect it to be a war."
HENRY CLAY (13-5) — Kimball 7-12 2-5 17, Prewitt 8-11 3-4 20, Kiesling 3-8 3-5 9, Nichols 2-5 2-2 6, Green 3-5 1-1 7, Grundy 3-6 0-0 6. Totals 26-47 11-17 65.
BRYAN STATION (11-8) — Webb 17, Morton 10, Williams 10, Renfro 10, Wade 0-2 0-2 0, Smith 1-5 0-0 2, Roberts 0-2 3-4 3. Totals 19-51 9-18 52.
Henry Clay 12 14 15 24—65
Bryan Station 18 7 7 20—52