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By RANTOUL PRESS
CLINTON — Fisher’s seventh-grade boys basketball team used the strength of a 26-7 opening period to hold off Grand Ridge and then met a defensive Normal Metcalf team as the Scotties advanced to the third- place game of the state finals against Carthage at 6 p.m. Thursday at Clinton High School.
Fisher, now 23-3, will play Carthage, which has lost just one game in 26 outings in the IESA State Class 2A game before the championship nightcap between 22-1 Normal Metcalf and 24-2 Decatur Robertson.
The Scotties fell behind 18-11 in the first period against the Normal team in the semifinal game before Metcalf jumped to a 30-18 halftime edge. Fisher fought back with a 6-4 third period, but Normal put the game away for good with a 10-2 finale to take the 44-26 win.
Earlier in the tourney, Fisher took a 60-52 win behind a big opening period and then fought off a Grand Ridge comeback that had the lead down to six by the end of the third period, 49-43. Fisher, however, pulled through with an 11-9 finish to take the eight point win.
Both teams opened the game with a quick five points, but seven first quarter steals helped the Scotties erupt to the big 19-point lead by the end of the period. Jaden Jones-Watkins lead Fisher with two steals and multiple assists in the period.
Wyatt Hill and Mitchell Vickers both hit threes to keep Grand Ridge close, but a pair of clutch three-pointers by Jones-Watkins kept the Mohawks off balance. Kade Thomas also broke down the GR defense with multiple points in the paint. The Scotties finished the half with eight steals to take the 38-20 lead.
Hill led the Grand Ridge comeback with a trio of threes in the second half, including a three at the buzzer to end the third, but it was a three-pointer from Thomas with 20 seconds left that shifted the momentum back to the Scotties.
Dawson Purvis’ bucket early in the fourth set the edge for the winners to give them an eight-point advantage, and Ryan Meents shot from behind the arc with 1:25 left halted the comeback. Seven steals by the Scotties in the final period also helped.
Jones-Watkins led Fisher with 20 points (seven field goals and two three-pointers) while Meents and Chris Young also hit double-figures with 13 and 10 points, respectively. Thomas added eight while Purvis added six and Brandon Henson also hit a three-pointer. Nick Harness also saw action for Fisher while Cameron Sublon and Anthony Sommer also play on the team.
Hill finished with 22 for the losers, hitting five three-point shots Vickers finished with 14 — 12 of those coming from behind the arc.