Bailey, Carlton will remember final hoops
ST. CLAIRSVILLE – When a team scores 98 points and wins a game by 29, it’s hard to pinpoint certain moments as exciting.
That wasn’t the case during Sunday’s annual Samuel A. Mumley OVAC All-Star Boys Basketball Game.
The final five points that Ohio scored may have seemed like window dressing to many, but for Jacob Bailey and Riley Carlton, the final baskets of their high school careers won’t ever be forgotten.
You see, both were highly productive players for Union Local and St. Clairsville, respectively and certainly deserved to be in the game.
However, late in both’s regular seasons they suffered serious knee injuries.
The injured Ohio duo got into the action of the all-star festivities at halftime of the boys’ game when they were two of the three Ohio shooters in the 3-point shootout.
“Coach Clifford was going to make everyone shoot for it, but he gave me and Bailey a guarantee of getting in since we couldn’t get in,” said Carlton. “It was a good opportunity for us and it was just awesome.”
Bailey and Carlton – with the blessing of Ohio head coach Kim Clifford – got into the game in the final moments after promising their head coach that they’d shoot from only spot on the floor, not over do it and not put any sort of heavy strain on their knees.
“I had to trust them that they’d stand in the corner and let us throw it to them,” Clifford said. “It was very, very special for us to get those guys into the game and then to have them score was great. Plus, West Virginia seemed to know what was going on and let them get some shots off.”
Both were on board immediately because playing in the OVAC Game with guys they’d played against and known for several years was something both had dreamt about.
Bailey checked into the game with just under two minutes to go and misfired on his first attempt. He and Carlton sort of hockey subbed for one another, just leaving the court, rather than waiting on a whistle since time was running short and there’d be no guarantee of another stoppage.
“Being selected for this game is such an honor and to be able to get into the game and score was just awesome,” Carlton said. “It stunk not being able to play more, but I am thankful that Coach Clifford gave Bailey and me a chance to get in and an opportunity to score.”
Carlton got in and calmly buried a triple from the left corner.
Bailey misfired again after replacing the Red Devils’ senior, but he found himself all alone under the bucket and the Mountain State defender put up little resistance as Bailey laid the ball in to close the scoring for the Buckeye State.
“Getting in meant the world to me,” Bailey said. “I just wanted to score. Getting a couple of shots off was exciting, but to get into the scoring column made it even better. I would have liked to have had a three, but I would have taken anything.”
A week from Tuesday, Bailey goes under the knife to get his knee repaired. He sustained the injury in the middle of Februrary as the regular season was winding down and didn’t get to compete in the Jets’ final few games.
His prep career finished with better than 1,000 points and as a third-team all-Ohioan.
“It was nice being able to finish in this all-star game against kids I’d played with in AAU and against during the season,” Bailey said.
Carlton injured his knee in the Red Devils’ home encounter against Indian Creek. He sat out two games, but returned for the OVAC final and the entire St. C. tournament run, which stretched to the regional.
He was playing the entire time on a torn up knee, which he’ll have repaired early next month.
“I kind of just hobbled around on it throughout the tournament,” Carlton said.
The toughest part for Carlton is having to miss his senior season of baseball where he was a mainstay behind the plate for the Red Devils.
“It’s tough not being able to play (baseball),” Carlton said. “It’s one of my first loves of sports and I’ve invested a lot of time into it.”
Carlton is currently serving as the Red Devils’ first-base coach.
“I am just trying to help the guys out as much as I can,” Carlton said.
Eventually, both will repaired and back to 100 percent healthy and they’ll have long forgotten about their knee injuries.
However, the memories of the OVAC All-Star Game and their made shots won’t ever be forgotten.
And that’s what makes high school sports such a wonderful thing.
Staskey can be reached at email@example.com