Bulldogs bring All ‘A’ state runner-up trophy home

Posted March 10, 2021 at 10:03 am

All A Crowd.psd


For the first time in school history, the Clinton County Bulldogs advanced to the championship game of the All “A” Classic State boys’ basketball tournament.

In the end, despite their valiant effort in Saturday’s championship game, the Bulldogs fell behind late in the second quarter to the St. Henry Crusaders and were never able to reclaim a lead in the second half of play.

St. Henry, champions of the 9th Region, eventually pulled away from the Bulldogs in the final minutes of play to claim the 74-57 victory for its second consecutive All “A” Classic state tournament championship.

Although the Bulldogs were dressed at full strength for Saturday’s game, the battle scars from Friday night’s semi-final win against Evangel Christian certainly weighed heavy on Clinton County’s game.

Two Clinton County players were on the floor with fresh injuries, forward Nick Delk sporting six new stitches over his right eye and forward Blake Melton playing on a severely sprained left ankle.

Clinton County trailed by as few as six points with just 3:17 showing in the fourth quarter clock, but bad breaks and bad bounces proved to be too much for the Dawgs to overcome.

With a limited number of fan tickets being sold due to COVID-19 crowd restrictions inside Eastern Kentucky University’s McBrayer Arena, Clinton County was limited to only 300 fan tickets being sold prior to Friday’s semi-final and Saturday’s championship game.

It was a showing of Clinton County proud fan-wise on hand both days as that limited number of tickets was a sell out and Bulldog fans largely outnumbered the fans from the opposing schools, St. Henry on Saturday and Evangel Christian on hand for Friday’s semi-final contest.

Bulldog assistant coach Mike Beard noted, in a text message to the Clinton County News after Saturday’s championship loss, just how much that Big Blue fan support had been noticed by the program.

“300 people sure made a lot of noise the last two days,” Beard said. “Please know how much the players and coaches appreciate the support this weekend – ones that got to be there and all the others that called, texted, or supported otherwise.”

On Saturday afternoon, after the final buzzer ended the championship contest that saw the Bulldogs falling just short of its goal of winning its first ever boys’ state championship trophy, those Big Blue fans rose to their feet to salute the effort Clinton County had put forth not only in Saturday’s championship game, but for the entire four-game tournament run.

That All “A” Classic run included opening round victories over Covington Catholic, 64-60, Murray, 70-56, and Evangel Christian, 44-42.

During the post-game awards ceremony following Saturday’s championship contest, three Clinton County players, Nick Brown, Nick Delk, and Blake Melton, were named to the All-Tournament team.

Another Clinton County player was also showcased Saturday, with Thomas Oesterreicher singing the National Anthem prior to the start of the girls’ and the boys’ championship contests.

The Bulldogs returned home after Saturday morning’s championship game in Richmond to an “only in Albany hero’s welcome” that saw the team bus being picked up by Clinton County Sheriff’s Department and Albany Police Department cruisers and escorted through Albany as fans cheered from the sidewalks.

Complete game summaries, as well as game photos from the weekend All “A” Classic run, can be found this week in Sports.

Clinton County’s Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs will finish the regular season this week and then head into post-season play next week when they travel to neighboring Cumberland County for the 16th District Tournament.

A large Clinton County crowd made their way to Richmond last week to show support for the Bulldogs as they played in the Final Four rounds of the All “A” Classic basketball tournament. In the top photo, the team with the State Runner-up Trophy they earned.