The Harriman Blue Devils defeated the Clay County Bulldogs tonight 74 to 73 in a thrilling game to become the new TSSAA Class A state champions. This is the second state high school basketball title for Harriman, the first was back in 1995. This was the Blue Devils eighth state championship appearance.
The starters for Harriman included Joe Pace, John Johnson, Isaiah McClaine, Hayden Bingham and Joshua Davis.
Clay County took the early lead starting off the game and led by as much as seven points at one time. But Harriman would not let Clay County get away from them. With the score tied at 18 with two minutes left, Hayden Bingham hit one of several three point shots in the game giving Harriman the lead 21 to 18 that ended the 1st quarter.
Bingham was just getting warmed up at the start of the 2nd quarter when he hit another three point shot but the Bulldogs Dawson Russell would answer with his own three point shot. The score would be tied at 26 all with 4:50 left before halftime courtesy of Tyreke Key sinking two free throws for Clay County. Key and Bingham led the scoring at that point with 11 points each. The score would be tied again at 30 with two free throws made by John Johnson but Clay County would go on a short scoring run and took a 35 to 32 lead into halftime.
Just after the 3rd quarter started, the Bulldogs tried again to pull away from Harriman taking a five point lead. Joe Pace would help Harriman tie it up again at 42 after a layup. With 4:14 left in the quarter, Tyreke Key made a two point shot to try to get a rally going for Clay County but Hayden Bingham would hit two three point shots within two minutes to give Harriman a 59 to 58 lead going into the final quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Tyreke Key put Clay County back on top 61 to 59 with 7:24 left in the game. Key would go on to break the single player scoring record in the state tournament that was set back in 1986 at 122 points. Key finished with 128 points in the tournament. Clay County once again would regain the lead but Joshua Davis for the Blue Devils hit a three
point shot to tie the game at 67 with 2:55 left in the game.
That is when both fan bases in the packed Murphy Center got on their feet and stayed on it until the end of the game.
Harriman would fall behind one point with 60 seconds left but Isaiah McClaine hit a shot to put the Blue Devils ahead with 50 seconds left. Clay County tried to push the ball down court but was called for a charge with 20.3 seconds left. Hayden Bingham was fouled and went to the free throw line sinking one of two shots that put Harriman up 74 to 70 with under 5 seconds remaining. Tyreke Key quickly hit a three point shot but time expired giving the win and the state championship to Harriman.
For Harriman, Hayden Bingham was the lead scorer with 29 points. Bingham was 10 of 21 from the court, 5 of 12 for three point shots and 4 of 6 from the free throw line. Bingham was followed in scoring by John Johnson with 15, Isaiah McClaine with 12, Joe Pace with 11, Joshua Davis with 3 and Jaylen McCullum and Eli Duncan with 2 points each.
As a team the Blue Devils shot 24 of 58 from the court, hit 7 of 25 three point shots and made 19 of 31 free throws. Harriman made it count with the time they were in the lead. The Blue Devils was in the lead for a total of just over nine minutes compared to sixteen and a half by Clay County. There was seven lead changes in the game. The one stat that jumps out is the points over turnovers. Harriman made 17 points on the Bulldogs turnovers compared to Clay Countys seven points.
Harriman players named to the all state tournament team included McClaine, Pace, Johnson and Bingham.
Photo in story courtesy of RoaneSports.com