The Lady Red Devils also won by 11, 47-36, and clinched a playoff slot.
It was, however, a strange and, in one instance, violent night.
In the girls’ game, Broome’s MacKenzie Mahoney and Clinton’s Terriauna Bennett crashed out of bounds under the Lady Centurions’ basket with 3:21 remaining in the third quarter, and a brutal fracas ensued that led to both players’ ejection and could have even more serious ramifications. Officials stopped the game. Both teams left the floor, and Broome (7-16, 3-6 region) climbed to within three points of Clinton (11-13, 5-4) when the game resumed after a delay of about 15 minutes.
“We kind of got in a funk in the third quarter,” head coach John Gardner said. “We couldn’t close it, and then, obviously, that happened.”
That being the fight.
“I was proud of the way they came back out and closed it out. … I said (in the locker room) you’ve got to put what just happened out of your mind. We’ve got to win a playoff spot.”
After struggling for the first three quarters, the Clinton boys dominated the fourth quarter in a game of weird statistics. To wit:
After Broome (11-12, 4-5) led 17-8 at the end of the first quarter, the Centurions did not manage to get a shot off for the first four minutes of the second. Clinton (14-6, 7-2) led, 25-24, at half.
The Centurions hit 57.1 percent from the field, perhaps as a result of getting so few shots off, and 28.6 percent from the free-throw line. Broome had 26 opportunities and hit only 10.
Payne, who played much of the third quarter with three fouls, popped a pair of three-pointers just before the halfway point of the third quarter, and they marked the turning point of the game. Boyd tormented the Centurions with a series of steals that turned the fourth quarter into a runaway right up until head coach Eddie Romines emptied the bench.
“We started a little slow,” said Payne, who finished with 18 points. “We had to fix things by playing great defense.”
Newberry kept pace by edging Chapman, 70-67, and both teams will be favored in their final contests, with Clinton at home against Woodruff and Newberry visiting Mid-Carolina.
“Broome was really packing it in on us with a zone early,” Red Devil head coach Eddie Romines said, “but we really missed lots of wide-open looks. It was like there was a lid on the basket. In the second quarter, we finally started getting on a roll. We started playing better defense. We probably played too much zone early.”
Clinton forced 24 Broome turnovers while committing only nine.
Khalil Stringer led the Centurions with 15 points, followed by Nick Case with 13 and David Miller with 11.
BROOME (48): Stringer 15, Miller 11, O’Fair 1, Case 13, Shuler 6, Jeter 2. Three-pointers: Shuler 4, Miller. Field goals: 20-35 (.571). Free throws: 6-21 (.286). Rebounds: 28. Turnovers: 24.
CLINTON (59): Payne 18, Boyd 8, Cook 9, Priestley 6, Bennett 7, Bluford 3, Hurley 8. Three-pointers: Payne 4. Field goals: 23-54 (.426). Free throws: 8-21 (.381). Rebounds: 30. Turnovers: 9.
DeShanti Watts scored 24 points to lead the Clinton girls, who could finish in a tie for second place if they defeat Woodruff. The rest of the team combined for 23. No one scored in double figures for Broome, which hit only 25.6 percent from the floor.
Both teams committed 23 turnovers.
BROOME (36): Wells 7, Rochester 8, Taylor 3, Hassan 8, Lee 5, Mahoney 3, Harris 2. Three-pointers: Wells, Rochester. Field goals: 12-47 (.255). Free throws: 10-18 (.556). Rebounds: 31. Turnovers: 23.
CLINTON (47): Campbell 7, Cheeks 3, Abercrombie 2, Watts 24, Bennett 5, Stephens 2, Kinard 4. Three-pointers: Campbell 2, Cheeks. Field goals: 16-43 (.372). Free throws: 12-21 (.571). Rebounds: 37. Turnovers: 23.