Henry Clay sophomore basketball player Teddy Ware knows how to follow orders.
In the closing minutes of the Blue Devils' district clash with Bryan Station Tuesday night, Coach Daniel Brown sent him into the game with direct instructions.
"He told me, 'You need to hit a three for me,' " Ware said. "I was like, 'All right.' "
With the score tied, Ware rattled in a 22-foot jumper to give Henry Clay a 40-37 lead and spark a 12-2 finish that gave the host Devils a 49-39 victory.
Henry Clay was led by sophomores Jordan Green (14 points, five rebounds), Christian Cunningham (12 points, six assists, four rebounds) and Trey Grundy (10 points, five rebounds, four blocked shots).
Ware came off the bench to score five points, including his clutch three with 3:24 left.
"That's what Teddy's in there to do, that's his role, to knock down open shots," Brown said. "That one was probably the game-winner."
Ware said Brown's confidence in him made him confident to take such an important shot. "So I hit it."
Bryan Station Coach Mike Allen said he told his players "whenever No. 23 (Ware) was in the game, tag him, don't let him get an open look.
"We missed that assignment and he hit the big three. That was the play of the game, the difference-maker."
This early city battle wasn't much to look at. The teams combined for 48 turnovers, and the game was played in a sloppy, rough-and-tumble style.
Both coaches liked their players' effort, and some pretty good defense.
"That's what we're going to build this team around — defense," Brown said. "Holding Bryan Station to 39 points was a plus."
Both coaches also pointed to youth and inexperience for the spotty play.
"We've got a long way to go," Brown said of his Devils, whose starting lineup includes three sophomores. "We've gotta get a lot to survive in the 11th Region."
Allen said his Defenders' inexperienced guards need time to develop.
"When you're young in the backcourt, you're going to have growing pains. But I'm proud of my kids. They played hard and fought hard."
Henry Clay never trailed. The Devils jumped to a 9-0 lead and were on top 23-13 at halftime.
But Bryan Station scrapped back, and used a 5-0 run — on five free throws by Larry Morton, Tyler Smith and Marcus Williams — to catch up at 37.
But Ware answered with his three-pointer to put Henry Clay ahead to stay.
Bryan Station's Kenyon Hipps scored to make it 40-39, but that was it for the Defenders. They came up empty in their last eight possessions — three turnovers, four missed threes and a blocked layup.
Williams led Bryan Station with 12 points. Morton had nine points and six rebounds. Smith had six points and five rebounds.
BRYAN STATION (0-3) — Williams 12, Morton 9, Allen 2, Henry 4, Hipps 4, Smith 6, Evans 2.
HENRY CLAY (2-1) — Grundy 10, Green 14, Kimball 4, Cunningham 12, Tichenor, 2, Ware 5, Blackburn 2.
Bryan Station 5 8 14 12—39
Henry Clay 12 11 10 16—49