BLACKSVILLE — Cole Burkett owned the fourth quarter as the Cameron Dragons prevailed in a Region 1 matchup against homestanding Clay-Battelle 68-57 inside the Wilson Statler Gymnasium Wednesday evening.
Burkett poured in 16 of his game-high 28 points in the final frame as the No. 5 Dragons (8-5) broke a 44-44 third-quarter tie with the No. 7 Cee-Bees (8-6) to win by 11.
“He really responded in the fourth quarter, he stepped up for us big time,” Cameron coach Tom Hart said of Burkett. “He was attacking the rack but his teammates around him were also really helping him out. We rebounded a lot better and we were playing really good defense in the fourth quarter.”
For stretches in the fourth Burkett practically single-handedly drove his way through the C-B defense on his way to the rim, either laying the ball in or drawing a foul and making the free throws. He went 8-of-10 from the line in the fourth and 11-of-14 overall.
Burkett had clear driving lanes late because Clay-Battelle’s defense had mostly moved out to the perimeter to cover Cameron’s long-range shots. The Dragons hit 11 times from deep Wednesday, led by five three-pointers from Mason Scott.
“He’s kind of been in a scoring slump but he came up big,” Hart said. “It was a balanced attack and I’m just really proud because we’ve been struggling.”
Clay-Battelle’s 2-3 zone defense initially did great as the Dragons didn’t score their first basket until the 3:15 mark in the first quarter. But as Cameron’s outside shooting started to heat up, the Cee-Bee defenders were drawn further and further away from the paint.
“We’ve got to do a better job closing out because when we closed out to them, they attacked the rim,” said C-B coach Josh Kisner. “Then we’d get a foul and they’d put it in.”
While Cameron found success from range, Clay-Battelle did most of its work inside. The Cee-Bees made 21 two-pointers against just two treys, both from Kholton St. Clair. C-B was able to use its superior size to dominate the boards and generate a plethora of second-chance opportunities, but when it got late in the game, the scoring dried up.
“We couldn’t put the ball in the hole and when we had opportunities, we just didn’t want to shoot,” Kisner said. “(Cameron) came down and hit quite a few shots and at the foul line when the ball game was close. They wanted it more than we did.”
Colby Barr scored 13 points in the second quarter and led C-B with a team-high 19, but he was held to just two points after halftime. Kisner said his team stopped running its offense effectively and wasn’t getting good looks as a result.
“In the end, we’re high school kids, I get that,” Kisner said. “But we’ve got to be more disciplined on the offensive side with our shot selection and setting the ball up to run what we’re supposed to. When it comes down late in a ball game, you’ve got to put the ball in the hole.”
St. Clair scored 16 points and Preston Luzader added 15 of his own.
For Cameron, Scott finished with 17 points while Lance Hartley put in 12.
Clay-Battelle is right back at it tonight with a trip to Valley to take on the Lumberjacks.
Cameron 68, Clay-Battelle 57
Cam 7 19 18 24 — 68
CB 12 19 13 13 — 57
CAMERON — Marling 2 0-0 6; Burkett 8 11-14 28; Winters 1 2-2 5; Hartley 6 0-0 12; Scott 6 0-0 17.
CLAY-BATTELLE — Shriver 2 1-1 5; St. Clair 5 4-4 16; Kolat 1 0-1 2; Luzader 7 1-2 15; Barr 8 3-7 19.
3 Pt. Goals — Cameron 11 (Scott 5, Marling 2, Hartley 2, Burkett 1, Winters 1). Clay-Battelle 2 (St. Clair 2)