What a day for Mr. Gray

CLYDE – Basking in accolades before Tuesday’s game with Old Fort even tipped off, Clyde’s Derek Gray found a way to put an exclamation point on things.

The Fliers’ star, who was named to a roster in the North-South Classic football game Tuesday, then was honored pregame for going reaching 1,000 points in his career, hit a tie-breaking contested jump shot with 5.6 seconds remaining in regulation, pushing Clyde to a 69-67 win over Old Fort.

Gray, who brought the Fliers back from a 20-point halftime deficit, finished with game-highs in points (34) and rebounds (9).

“No,” said Gray when asked if his day could have been better. “It could have gotten worse, but we pulled a team win tonight.”

With the score tied at 67 with 17 seconds left, Clyde’s Zach Rieman inbounded the ball to Collin Rieman, who found Gray.

“We tried to get it in my hands at the end with about 10 seconds left. And I was just trying to get (the defender) off balance, and I shot-faked and pump-faked,” Gray said. “Then I did a spin move and went up and under, and luckily it went in.”

Old Fort coach Eric Hoover said he knew where the ball was going.

“I figured one way or another they were going to get it to (Gray),” he said. “We had to make him take a contested shot. We did, and he made it.

“I thought we defended it pretty well,” Hoover said. “He made a tough shot.”

Clyde (9-3) coach Ryan Carter wasn’t ready to celebrate.

“I was a little mad at myself, I thought we gave them a little too much time,” he said.

That’s because the Stockaders also have a big-shot guy.

Hunter Perry scored 32 points already Tuesday, and after a timeout, had his chance to answer.

Perry was brilliant in the first half, and was the offensive catalyst in Old Fort’s 28-point second quarter. Perry scored 18 points over the eight-minute stretch, which included four 3s – three of which were heavily contested.

So Perry was the guy to go to. He came within inches of delivering.

“We had a guy in front of him, a guy behind him, we had a guy running at him from halfcourt,” Carter said.

But Perry got the ball and maneuvered to the left side of the basket. Surrounded, he leaned inside and – somehow – got a reasonably clean look at the hoop for a potential tying shot.

It rimmed out as the buzzer sounded.

“He got a pretty good look. He got (the defender) in the air and stepped through him and got an open look at it,” Hoover said. “It’s a tough shot.”

It was a tough loss for the Stockaders (10-4), who played what Hoover called the “best half of basketball we’ve played all year.”

Old Fort went up 43-23 after Brad Bannister’s three-point play with seven seconds left in the half. The Stockaders took that advantage to the break. Bannister finished the game with 12 points.

Carter said he preached patience to his team before it came out for the third quarter.

“You’re not gonna get it all back in one,” Carter said. “You gotta start with a quality defensive stop and then have a quality possession at the offensive end.”

Clyde was able to cut the Old Fort lead to 60-46 going to the fourth. Then, behind Gary, Collin Rieman and effective defensive pressure, it made a run.

Rieman’s 3 from the right win made it 62-54 with 5:45 left. A Colin Gregory stickback made it 62-56, then a Gray layup brought the Fliers within four with 4:27 left.

To that point, Old Fort had managed just two points in the quarter, and just two shots. The Stockaders had nine turnovers going to the fourth, but had seven over the final eight minutes.

“You can’t have those empty possessions on offense, where you’re getting nothing,” Hoover said. “Especially when you’re having trouble stopping them from scoring.”

Collin Rieman split a pair of free throws to get Clyde within three, then his trey from the right wing tied the game at 62 with 2:24 left. It capped an 11-0 Fliers’ run.

Collin Rieman finished with 13 points.

The final two minutes were back and forth. Jon Lotycz’s layup gave the Stockaders a 65-64 lead, but Gray answered with a 3 at the top of the key.

Perry answered with a deep 2 from the left wing, tying things again with 1:15 left.

“Hunter Perry had an unconscious first half, and he’s a good ballplayer,” Gray said. “It’s tough stopping someone like him once he gets it going, but we pulled it out late in the game.”

It was just Gray’s day.