CAMERON - The Cameron boys had one thing on their minds when they came to play their final game on Dragon's Court: Send out the old gym with a bang.
The team did just that as the Dragons blasted Paden City, 80-46, in front of what looked like the entire town of Cameron on Wednesday night.
''We weren't going to come in and lay an egg tonight,'' Cameron coach Chad Clutter said. ''We put a lot of the pride on those kids' shoulders. There was a lot of points scored in this gym (Wednesday night). Then, on top of that, we had (West Liberty basketball coaches) Lynn Ullom and Jim Crutchfield in the crowd. We had some legends here tonight that came to watch them play, and I think they appreciated it. They felt that sense of pride and just rolled with it.''
Cameron’s Shane Williams (20) goes for a layup while being guarded by Paden City’s Logan Carroll (33) during Wednesday night’s game.
The Dragons were so hot, they shot the lights out. Literally. With 4:34 to go in the final quarter, half the lights in the gymnasium went dim.
''I think it was Cameron just trying to let everyone know that we just wanted to hold onto this moment for a little bit,'' Clutter said. ''Let everyone take a deep breath and think. It was the most people we've had in a ball game for a long time. We hope the noise can stay like this for the rest of the season.''
The Dragons (8-6) raced out to an early 11-0 lead fueled by senior Mark Walker, who scored seven of the game's first nine points.
By the end of the first quarter, Cameron was already ahead by 21 points and stretched the margin to 28 at halftime, 39-11.
Midway through the third, a Walker conventional 3-point play put the hosts ahead by 35 as the Dragons coasted to the finish line.
Walker, who will be attending WVU in the fall to pursue a career in athletic training, was hotter than a dragon's breathe the entire game as he finished with 32 points behind a sizzling five 3-pointers.
The senior also chipped in six assists and six steals.
''He had a phenomenal night,'' Clutter said. ''I couldn't believe there was a few times they left him opened, but he made them pay for it. If you give him 5 feet of space, he's going to beat you. He's that type of player. He played a really complete ball game.''
Zach Hall finished with 12 points to go with 10 rebounds, while Ryan Clutter had 12 points, six rebounds and six steals.
Logan Routt added eight blocks - five in the first quarter - eight rebounds and four points for the Dragons.
''All of our players played within their element and played team basketball,'' Clutter said. ''Nobody came out to show off and that really allowed us to get the big lead in the beginning.
''It was really nice to come out against a team that has won 10 games and be able to beat them as handily as we did.''
So where does the victory rank among the greatest games played on Dragon's Court?
''It's definitely in my top three, maybe even in the top two,'' Clutter said. ''There was a girls' game here against Valley that we won 79-70. Amanda Allison beat the school record in scoring in that game. Valley was ranked No. 1 that year; they were really good. But if this one isn't No. 1, then those two are right there.''
For Fred King and the Wildcats (10-5), the game was truly like walking into a dragon's den.
''The worse case possible that my young team could be put in, was put in,'' King said. ''But I told them we could get better by playing that kind of team in this kind of environment. You're either going to grow up and be a man tonight or you're going to get drilled.
''In the second half, I thought we did some nice things, once we got our feet on the floor. The first three minutes of the ball game, I don't even think we saw the basket. We just saw white jerseys flying past us.
''We tested out the guillotine to see if it was sharp enough. Guess what? It was.''
Though there have been many victories in the 58 years of the old gym, the Dragons decided to celebrate this one a little differently.
''After we shook hands, we went right back out to center court,'' Clutter said. ''Usually we'll go down to the locker room, but I just did my postgame talk right there.
''During senior night, we had everybody that played or coached or had any involvement in the athletics here come out on the court and come together. We did the 1, 2, 3 ... dragons, and we ended it that way. The kids were real pleased to get out there and look down at that dragon one last time. We're just moving on in our chapter.''