Three times in the fourth quarter here Monday, the Clarke girls basketball team cut Creston’s lead to just four points, and each time, Creston responded.
With 2:10 remaining in the game, and the score 47-43 in favor of Creston after Kylar McCann had just knocked down two free throws for Clarke, the Panthers responded with a 12-3 run to close out the game and preserve a 59-46 win over a Clarke team that has spent time this season ranked in the top 15 of Class 3A.
“It was a good win,” head coach Larry McNutt said. “They have some pretty good players. I don’t think they shot particularly well, but we did a good job of rebounding and got the ball where we needed to. We knocked down some shots, too. It makes it easier when you make shots.”
Junior guard Chelcee Downing had a big first half, scoring eight of her 10 points in the half as the Panthers carried a 28-22 lead into halftime over the Lady Indians, now 9-3.
Sophomore Natalie Mostek netted eight of her team-high 15 points in the first half as well.
Freshman Jenna Taylor added six of her 11 points in the first half, coming off the bench.
The Panthers had three scorers in double figures, while three more had seven or more points.
“It was a good team effort,” McNutt said. “We got good bench play tonight, even if it was just a few minutes from some of the girls, but it was quality minutes. We got great minutes out of Olivia (Nielsen) and Jenna off the bench. Emma (Johnson), too. Those three had great minutes. They might not show up in the scorebook, but they were quality minutes that we needed at the time.”
Creston hit the glass hard, finishing the game with 39 rebounds, including 14 offensive rebounds. Those 14 offensive rebounds nearly matched the total rebounds for Clarke in the game, which finished with 15 rebounds.
Brianna Maitlen finished with 10 rebounds, seven of which were offensive rebounds. Mostek added nine rebounds, while Brenna Baker pulled down six boards and Taylor grabbed five.
“Give them all the credit in the world,” Clarke head coach Eric Zoske said. “They’re apparently faster than us, and they play a lot harder than we do. You put those two situations together, and sometimes that’s a recipe for success when you play a team that was not ready to play, and that was us. Give them credit, because they made us look like a very poor team today.”
And when the Panthers needed it most, with Clarke threatening to make a run at the end, Creston closed out the fourth quarter shooting 11-of-13 from the free throw line to put the game on ice.
Baker, who shot 8-of-10 from the free throw line for the game, shot 7-of-8 in the final minute of the game.
Creston, now 4-11 for the season, returns to action tonight against Glenwood. The freshmen girls kick action off at 4:30 p.m., followed by junior varsity and varsity action.
CLARKE (46) — Kylar McCann 3 9-11 17, Sarah Pate 3 5-7 11, Devon Carson 3 0-0 7, Libby Bemis 3 0-0 6, Kacey Klemesrud 1 3-6 5. Totals — 13 17-24 46. 3-point goals — 1 (Carson 1). Fouled out — McCann.
CRESTON (59) — Natalie Mostek 6 3-4 15, Jenna Taylor 5 1-1 11, Chelcee Downing 4 0-0 10, Brenna Baker 0 8-10 8, Brianna Maitlen 3 2-3 8, Zaidy Frank 2 3-3 7. Totals — 20 17-24 59. FG shooting — 20-53 (37.7 percent). 3-point goals — 2-7 (Downing 2). Rebounds — 39 (Mostek 10, Maitlen 9, Baker 6, Taylor 5, Frank 4, Downing 3, Olivia Nielsen 2). Assists — 6 (Baker 3, Mostek 2). Steals — 5 (Mostek 2). Turnovers — 19. Team fouls — 17. Fouled out — Frank.
Clarke — 12 22 35 46
Creston — 15 28 40 59
The Creston junior varsity girls came out ready to play, dominating Clarke in a 54-17 win.
Olivia Nielsen led the team with 15 points and seven rebounds, while Taylor Briley chipped in 14 and Jenna Taylor added 11. Caitlin McIlravy scored eight points with five steals and Maria Mostek added four points and three assists. Alli Thomsen scored two points with five steals.
“The girls came out playing strong and took care of the little things to lead them on to victory,” JV coach Mendy McCreight said. “We did a great job on the offensive end taking care of the ball and shooting good shots, and getting the ball inside to post players. Our defense was good as well, as we only allowed them to score 17 points. Overall, it was a great game and had a lot of girls come off the bench and make a great impact on the floor.”
The Panther JV team improves to 8-6 with the win.
Creston (54) — Olivia Nielsen 15, Taylor Briley 14, Jenna Taylor 11, Caitlin McIlravy 8, Maria Mostek 4, Alli Thomsen 2. Rebounds — Nielsen 7. Steals — McIlravy 5, Thomsen 5. Assists — Maria Mostek 3.
Clarke (17) —Baylie Balcaen 6, Amanda Kindred 5, Maddi Heath 4, Ally Deutsch 2.