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Loss ends Gibbons era at Clayton State

Special photo
Gordon Gibbons coached his final game at Clayton State on Friday in the quarterfinal round of the Peach Belt Conference, an 85-71loss to USC Aikens.

Special photo Gordon Gibbons coached his final game at Clayton State on Friday in the quarterfinal round of the Peach Belt Conference, an 85-71loss to USC Aikens.

COLUMBUS — The Gordon Gibbons era at Clayton State officially ended Friday in the quarterfinals round of the Peach Belt Conference Tournament.

Clayton State loss 85-71 to USC Aiken at the Lumpkin Center at Columbus State University, which marked the last game for Gibbons, who announced earlier this season he was not returning to the Lakers’ bench after this season.

Clayton State finished the season with a 13-14 record.

Gibbons leaves as the all-time winningest coach at Clayton State.

“I have really enjoyed my time in the Peach Belt,” Gibbons said in his postgame press conference. “This conference has some great coaches and has become the top Division II basketball league in the Southeast.”

Clayton State trailed 42-36 at intermission and cut the Pacer lead to three points, 47-44, with 14:11 remaining on a 3-pointer by Craig Wong, his second long-range jumper within 40 seconds of play.

After USC Aiken rattled off four straight points, Wong came back with another 3-pointer to cut the lead to 51-47. USC immediately answered though with a 9-0 run over the next three minutes and took a 60-47 lead with 10:56 remaining in the game.

Clayton State cut the lead to nine points on two different occasions in the final eight minutes but would come no closer.

“USC Aiken really likes to run and play up tempo,” Gibbons said. “We were successful in slowing down the game until that spurt in the second half which turned out to be the difference.”

In 22 seasons of coaching at the NCAA Div. II level, Gibbons has a 465-197 for a winning percentage of .702, which ranks fourth in the nation among active head coaches with 15 years of experience.

He left his mark at Clayton State during his 12-year tenure, which produced 11 winning seasons and two NCAA Div. II tournament appearances.

Clayton State sports information department contributed to this article.