After the two teams split regular-season nail-biters, the Bulldogs, coached by Chad Cary, used balanced scoring, better shooting and a decisive rebounding edge to prevent the Red Devils from defending their 2016-17 crown. Newberry (16-6, 9-2) outscored Clinton (15-7, 8-3) by a 21-11 margin in the third quarter and withstood a frantic rush by the Red Devils in the fourth.
Clinton trailed by as many as 14 (51-37 and 53-39) and got as close as six (58-52), but when the Red Devils launched their assault, three key players -- Vilo Boyd, J.D. Payne and Zay Hurley -- were playing with four fouls.
Jahleed Cook, with 17 points, and Zay Bennett, with 12, picked up the scoring slack, and the Clinton press forced seven Newberry turnovers in the fourth quarter, but the task was too great.
"We dug a hole for ourselves in the third quarter," Clinton head coach Eddie Romines said. "We couldn't score. We made some turnovers (nine) against their press, but we didn't quit. We came back. I'm proud of them.
"They were able to hit more outside shots than they did last time (a 53-51 Clinton victory). Our strategy was to play a 2-3 zone and pack it in. That worked, but you've got to pick your poison, and they made some threes."
Eleven Newberry players scored, led by Pat Paul with 13 points, Tariq Goodman with 12 and Jaleel Gilliam with 10.
Clinton will open the playoffs at home on Tuesday night against either Pendleton or Seneca. They play each other Friday night.
CLINTON (60): Payne 3, Boyd 8, Cook 17, Priestley 6, Bennett 8, James 12, Hurley 4, Richardson 2. Three-pointers: Payne, Cook, Priestley. FIeld goals: 24-54 (.444). Free throws: 9-17 (.529). Rebounds: 21. Turnovers: 18.
NEWBERRY (72): P. Paul 13, Gilliam 10, Ruff 4, K. Wise 5, Stephens 3, Willis 6, Rogers 9, Goodman 12, Chalmers 5, N. Paul 2, Cromer 3. Three-pointers: P. Paul 2, K. Wise, Stephens, Cromer. Field goals: 26-53 (.491). Free throws: 15-23 (.652). Rebounds: 35. Turnovers: 18.
Chapman (8-16, 6-5) nailed down the third seed in the region girls' race with a 46-40 tie-breaker victory over Clinton (12-15, 5-6). The Lady Red Devils will visit Pendleton on Monday in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs.
The girls' tie-breaker was also contested at Woodruff High School.
DeShanti Watts scored 18 points and Savanna Campbell 12 as Clinton also waged a fourth-quarter comeback that was ultimately futile. The Lady Red Devils failed to score a point in the first four minutes of the third quarter.
Campbell, by the way, connected on four three-pointers, and Clinton made more three-pointers than two-pointers in the game.
"Once you get down, double digits, and you fight back, a lot of times, that's where your energy goes," head coach John Gardner said. "It's hard to get finally over the hump.
"We fought hard all the way to the end, but give Chapman credit. They were the better team tonight."
In part because the Panthers were able to force 27 Clinton turnovers, they attempted 19 more shots and grabbed six more rebounds. Ke'Asia Anderson led Chapman with 12 points and Paige Aho added 11.
CLINTON (40): Campbell 12, Cheeks 8, Watts 18, Stephens 2. Three-pointers: Campbell 4, Cheeks 2, Watts 2. Field goals: 13-41 (.317). Free throws: 6-13 (.462). Rebounds: 35. Turnovers: 27.
CHAPMAN (46): Bacote 2, Moore 4, Aho 11, Anderson 12, Conner 2, Felkel 5, Vernon 3, Mabry 7. Three-pointers: Aho 3. Field goals: 18-60 (.300). Free throws: 16-25 (.640). Rebounds: 41. Turnovers: 16.