Goodlett powers Clinton|[01/05/07]

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 5, 2008

Warren Central and Clinton tipped off the new year with a game they’ll be feeling for a month.

Georgia Tech signee Sasha Goodlett, a 6-foot, 4-inch senior, was just short of a triple-double, finishing with 19 points, nine rebounds and nine blocks, Clinton held the Lady Vikes to 31.5 percent shooting for the game, and the Lady Arrows earned a 34-27 victory in a punishing defensive battle Friday night.

Goodlett’s effort was enough to outduel Warren Central star Sha’Kayla Caples. The Lady Vikes junior forward had 16 points, seven rebounds and three blocks in a matchup of two of the top players in Mississippi.

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“I thought both teams did a good job of getting after it,” said Warren Central coach Donny Fuller. “Neither team shot the ball well, but part of that was because of the defense.”

Clinton was 14-for-32 from the field for the game, but went cold down the stretch. After Lindsey Bishop hit the second of two 3-pointers early in the fourth quarter to give Clinton a 32-21 lead — the biggest of the game for either team — with five minutes to play, the Lady Arrows didn’t score again until breaking WC’s press for an easy layup in the closing seconds.

“Our guard play wasn’t as good as it’s been in the past. We struggled to get good shots, then we had some turnovers,” Clinton coach Felicia Lofton said. “We got to playing not to lose instead of playing to win.”

Warren Central (12-6) was unable to take advantage, though. It scored five quick points on a free throw by Caples and baskets by Heather Casey and Karnina Bunch to make it 32-26 with 3:07 left, then forced three turnovers on successive possessions.

None of them turned into points.

Clinton (15-4) clamped down on defense, with Goodlett swatting three straight shots at one point — two of them by Caples underneath the basket. All the Lady Vikes managed in the last three minutes was a free throw by Bunch. They were 2-for-5 from the foul line in the fourth quarter, and 3-for-9 from the field.

“We just couldn’t convert. When you get big Sasha under there, it’s hard to score,” Fuller said.

The Lady Vikes never led in the game. They didn’t score until Caples hit a jumper with 2:40 to play in the first quarter, cutting Clinton’s lead to 8-2, and managed only one tie at 19-19 with 1:13 to go in the third quarter. Goodlett promptly converted a three-point play, and Bishop hit two 3-pointers from the right corner early in the fourth to complete a 13-2 run that made it 32-21.

Bishop barely logged five minutes of playing time, but finished with six points, a rebound and two assists.

“They were huge shots,” Goodlett said. “But she’s known for making consecutive threes. And the corner is her spot. I was glad they let her alone out there to shoot it.”

(B) Clinton 56, WC 40

Donzederrick Smith scored 14 points, Vincenzo Nelson and Krishna Bell each had 11, and Clinton used a 9-0 run in the last two minutes of the third quarter to pull away from Warren Central.

Clinton (15-5) led 34-30 with just under two minutes to play when it started its run. Several transition baskets and a 3-pointer by Steve Smith just before the buzzer made it 43-30 heading into the final period. WC never got the deficit back into single digits.

Josh Sheppard led WC with nine points and Chris Hood scored eight.