Matt Clendenen's go-ahead driving layup with 14 seconds to play in the boys' high school basketball game Thursday at Baylor looked like it might be the heroics of the night. But then he upstaged himself.
With time winding down, Clendenen was able to rake the ball out of 6-foot-8 Brandon Walters' hands as he was going up for a shot inside. During the ensuing scramble for the ball, time ran out on the Red Raiders' 49-48 victory over Howard.
The game was destined from the beginning to come down to the wire. Neither team led by more than four, and there were seven ties. When Clendenen drove the length of the floor for a left-handed layup after Walters made the front end of a one-and-one with 21.9 seconds left and missed the second shot, it marked the 13th and final lead change.
"When I got to about halfcourt I saw a great opening and had to take it," said Clendenen, who had a chance to put Baylor ahead when he made a steal with his team trailing 45-44, but he stumbled and was called for walking with 1:07 to go.
After Clendenen's basket, the ball ended up getting knocked out of bounds by Baylor (3-1) around halfcourt, and Red Raiders coach Austin Clark called time out with nine seconds remaining. Clark said his strategy was to pack the defense around the goal to challenge the Hustlin' Tigers to either try a perimeter shot, or if the ball went inside to Walters to foul, if nothing else, to prevent a layup.
Instead, Clendenen was able to make a clean strip as the Howard center was about to shoot.
"He's so big, he's hard to get around," said Clendenen, who made the play from behind. "I just happened to get a good jump on it."
Trailing late, the Red Raiders had to foul a few times consecutively just to put Howard in the bonus. They finally were called for their seventh team foul with 52.8 seconds to play, and Rashad Brummitt made both ends of the bonus situation to extend the Tigers' lead to three.
On the ensuing trip down the floor, Jeff Bowens took the ball into the lane, then dished it to Gage Upshaw on the right wing, where he calmly dropped in a tying shot from behind the arc.
"Jeff Bowens just penetrated and saw me waiting at the 3-point line," Upshaw said. "I was just fortunate enough to make the 3."
Clark said although Upshaw is a freshman, he had permission to shoot in that clutch situation.
"You miss all shots you don't take," Clark said.
How Walters got to the line for his one-and-bonus situation was Clark ordering him to be fouled in the backcourt -- with the game tied.
"I felt like our kids were playing on fumes," Clark said. "We didn't want them to have it for a last shot. We tried to work it where he'd get the basketball. He made the first and missed the second, but we at least knew we'd have a shot at tying it."
Amedeo Giudssoni led the Red Raiders with 15 points, counting three of the team's nine 3-point goals, and Clendenen totaled 13 points.
Walters led all scorers with 23 and fellow post player Xavier Harris added 10 for Howard (6-1).
Upshaw's brother, Reggie, who has signed play at Middle Tennessee State University, is scheduled to have surgery today on his injured ankle and will be out four to eight weeks.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.