OSCEOLA — It took the Creston girls basketball team 23 minutes and 54 seconds to finally take a lead in its game against Clarke here Monday.
Better late than never, though.
After taking its first lead just before the end of the third quarter, the Panthers went on to secure a 45-43 win over the Lady Indians for their second straight win.
The way things went for the Panthers in the first half, a victory seemed improbable.
“I don’t know if you can play any worse than we did in the first half,” Creston head coach Larry McNutt said. “We just were really bad the first half. We didn’t do what the game plan was and I thought our effort wasn’t very good.”
Clarke started the game on a 10-2 run, and held a 16-10 lead after one quarter as Carley Robins hit a 3-pointer just before the horn.
The lead ballooned to 30-19 in the second quarter when Robins hit Libby Bemis for a layup. But, Creston sophomore Taylor Briley hit a jumper from the wing to send the Panthers into the half trailing 30-21.
Briley netted 10 points in the first half, knocking down four jumpers from the wing and getting a steal and converting it into a layup.
“I would hate to know what the score would have been at halftime if Taylor hadn’t made some shots for us,” McNutt said. “She did a good job on that ball reversal of getting inside the 3-point line and getting 15, 17-footers. That’s the type of shots we need to have. She did a good job there.”
The Panthers came storming out of the gates in the second half, however and quickly cut the Clarke lead to 30-27 thanks to layups from Natalie Mostek and Briley.
After a Mostek jumper and layup, the margin was cut to 32-31 with 3:10 left in the third.
Following a Clarke timeout, the Lady Indians quickly made it 36-31. But, the Panthers went on another mini-run, finally taking their first lead on a Jenna Taylor jumper with :06 left in the quarter.
“I talked about having heart and said we’ll find out if we have heart,” McNutt said. “I’d say we have a lot of heart. We came back and got some steals second half. It was a nice team effort the second half.”
Bemis got a basket to start the fourth quarter, giving Clarke a 38-37 lead, but it was the last lead of the night for the Lady Indians.
Camryn Somers had a pair of offensive rebounds for putbacks down the stretch, both times breaking a tie. Somers recorded a team-high nine rebounds, four of which were offensive boards.
“We talked about at halftime, nobody was trying to get offensive rebounds,” McNutt said. “We were trying to jump over their backs and we’re not going to get rebounds that way. Camryn did a good job second half of getting in position to get rebounds, and that was key, because we didn’t get any of them in the first half.”
Briley and Taylor each made 1-of-2 free throws in the final minute to preserve the win for the Panthers. Both players finished with 13 points.
Briley had a strong overall game, finishing with five rebounds, five assists and five steals.
Creston improved to 5-8 for the season with the win, while Clarke dropped to 3-12.
The Panthers travel to Clarinda (5-8, 1-6) tonight for a Hawkeye 10 Conference matchup.
CLARKE (43) — Libby Bemis 6 1-2 13, Devon Carson 5 2-4 12, Carley Robins 4 0-1 10, Maddi Heath 2 0-0 4, Baylie Balcaen 2 0-0 4. Totals — 19 3-7 43. FG shooting — 19-44 (43 percent). 3-point goals — 2-6 (Robins 2). Steals — 6. Rebounds — 25. Turnovers — 18. Team fouls — 12. Fouled out — none.
CRESTON (45) — Taylor Briley 6 1-2 13, Jenna Taylor 5 3-4 13, Natalie Mostek 4 0-2 8, Camryn Somers 3 0-1 6, Chelcee Downing 1 2-3 5. Totals — 19 6-12 45. FG shooting — 19-50 (38 percent). 3-point goals — 1-6 (Downing 1). Rebounds — 27 (Somers 9, Taylor 7, Briley 5, Mostek 3, Olivia Nielsen 2). Assists — 13 (Briley 5, Downing 4, Somers 2). Steals — 10 (Briley 5, Taylor 2). Blocked shots — 6 (Taylor 4). Turnovers — 9. Team fouls — 13. Fouled out — none.
Clarke — 16 30 36 43
Creston — 10 21 37 45
The Creston JV girls picked up a 25-13 win over Clarke on Monday in a half-game.
The two teams played just one half because of low numbers for the Clarke girls.
Sadie Jones led the way with 12 points for the Panthers. Cammy Rutherford added four points, as did Caitlin McIlravy. Maria Mostek knocked down a 3-pointer and Jessica Beatty finished with two points.
The Panthers improved to 7-8 for the season with the win.