“Zay played really well tonight,” head coach Eddie Romines said. “He carried us in a lot of ways. We struggled from outside, but his work allowed us to settle down. We started getting the ball inside and were able to build a lead.
“I think we played good defense for most of the night.”
Clinton (12-6, 5-2 region) will visit Newberry on Tuesday in a game that could determine the region champion. The Bulldogs won the earlier meeting, 71-68, on Jan. 12.
Mid-Carolina (5-15, 1-6) had nothing for Hurley inside. The 6-4 senior was almost automatic inside and on the boards. He was the chief reason the Red Devils shot 50 percent from the floor and outrebounded the Rebels, 39-24.
“Zay has really come on in the last four games,” Romines said. “We’re doing a better job of playing team basketball, of working the ball, and our plan coming in was to push the ball inside and put pressure on (Mid-Carolina) defensively.”
The Rebels are at the bottom of the region race but were coming off an upset of Broome.
Clinton never trailed after a 7-0 run in the first quarter, spurred by back-to-back buckets by Hurley on a putback of a Konnor Richardson miss and off a steal. After trailing 7-5, the Red Devils pulled ahead 12-7 and never looked back. Hurley scored 14 first-half points, at which point Clinton led, 30-14.
J.D. Payne scored 14 points, and Ty Priestley chipped in eight.
C.C. Boyd was the only Rebel in double figures with 10.
Both Clinton squads swamped Mid-Carolina, lending a festive atmosphere to an Alumni Night in which former Red Devil players and coaches from both boys’ and girls’ teams were honored in halftime ceremonies.
MID-CAROLINA (42): Bowers 9, Edwards 3, Coleman 9, Boyd 10, Dewalt 4, Boland 7. Three-pointers: Bowers, Edwards, Boland. Field goals: 18-46 (.391). Free throws: 3-7 (.429). Rebounds: 24. Turnovers: 19.
CLINTON (60): Payne 14, Boyd 6, Priestley 8, Bennett 4, James 3, Quarles 3, Hurley 22. Three-pointers: Payne, Priestley 2. Field goals: 24-48 (.500). Free throws: 9-17 (.529). Rebounds: 39. Turnovers: 10.
The Lady Red Devils pulled above .500 in the region race and closed in on a playoff berth with a 48-32 verdict over Mid-Carolina, led by three players – DeShanti Watts with 14, Savanna Campbell with 11 and Terriauna Bennett with 10 – scoring in double figures.
Clinton (10-12, 4-3) led 14-3 at the end of the first quarter. The Lady Red Devils lead reached 22 with about three minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Nia Hall led Mid-Carolina (3-14, 0-7) with 14 points.
Clinton’s blazing start had a side effect of early foul trouble for several players.
“It was good that we came out strong for that reason,” head coach John Gardner said. “Once we got in foul trouble, we had to slow it down and just hang on. We had balanced scoring, and I thought we played pretty good defense throughout.
“I was a little worried at halftime because of the foul trouble and because we missed a lot of layups in the first half, but fortunately, we played almost foul-free in the second half, and we really played well in the third quarter.”
MID-CAROLINA (32): Williams 7, Hester 5, Coker 2, Hall 14, Mathis 4. Three-pointers: Williams 2, Hester, Mathis. Field goals: 10-40 (.250). Free throws: 8-18 (.444). Rebounds: 33. Turnovers: 21.
CLINTON (48): Campbell 11, Cheeks 6, Abercrombie 3, Watts 14, Bennett 10, Stephens 2, Austin 2. Three-pointers: Campbell, Cheeks 2. Field goals: 21-48 (.438). Free throws: 3-12 (.250). Rebounds: 29. Turnovers: 20.