By Ben Murphy
Clare survived a rusty start to its home Jack Pine Conference boys’ basketball game on Saturday, topping cross county rival Farwell 61-40.
The Eagles got early threes by Seth Baginski and Kyle Danielson to hold a 19-17 lead after the first, but Clare largely dominated play the rest of the day.
“It was just kind of a weird day,” Clare head coach Rob Wise said. “Nobody was in the gym, it almost felt like a scrimmage. It took us awhile to get going. Once we went to a zone that took some of their cuts away and took the momentum from them.”
Connor Clickner instantly put Clare ahead moments into the second, getting fouled on a drive to the basket, converting on an and-one play to put the Pioneers up 20-19.
The Pioneers held the Eagles to just four points in the frame, getting a flip-in by Curtis Robinson and a drive by Walter Mosby while Care was driven by a three by Adkins that made it 28-21 and Travis Vida closed out the half with a deep two pointer to put Clare up 34-23 at the half.
Mason Packard opened the third with a lay-in to put the Pioneers up 36-23 though Farwell went on a 7-2 run, capped by a Dylan Brown three pointer to make it 38-30.
Vida answered with a three of his own to put Clare’s lead back to double-digits at 41-30 and a pair of Packard free throws kept the Pioneer lead at 44-34 entering the fourth.
Scott Smith gave Clare a 12 point lead by getting a tough lay-in to fall and Adkins added two more free throws to put Clare up 48-34.
Mosby had a reverse lay-in to keep Farwell within striking distance at 49-38 but Clare closed the game out on a 12-2 run to secure the win.
“We shot well in the first quarter and didn’t the rest of the game,” Farwell head coach Erik Schunk said. “The day of the week didn’t matter, we just didn’t shoot well. They shot a lot better than we did.”
Vida led Care with 12 points, Clickner had 11, Adkins scored 10 points, Smith had nine points and seven rebounds, Punches had eight points and four assists, Packard added six points, nine rebounds and six assists, Max Swan and Matthew Magnus both had two points.
Farwell was led by Mosby with 10 points, Brown and Danielson both had seven, Robinson added six, Trent Marhofer added four while Hickey and Baginski both finished with three.
On Thursday, Feb. 27 Clare won a JPC game at Gladwin, 71-47.
The Pioneers led 16-11 after the first, 34-22 at the half and 54-32 entering the fourth.
“It was another game where we had everyone contribute and play hard,” Wise said. “All nine guys scored and had a rebound.”
Packard led the way with 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists, Smith had 14 points and six rebounds, Punches had 11 points and five steals and Vida had 10 points.
Clare lost its class ‘B’ district semi-final game against Chippewa Hills at the Reed City district on Wednesday, falling 72-70.
The Pioneers and Warriors were tied at 17-17 after the first though Clare pulled ahead 38-29 by the half and led by as much as 16 points in the third before Chippewa Hills closed it to 56-49 entering the fourth.
There the Warriors finished off the comeback to win 72-70 and end the Pioneer’s season. Clare finishes with a 16-5 overall and took third in the JPC with an 11-3 record.
“We just stopped playing defense,” Wise said of the loss. “Not the way we wanted to end the year but I’m still proud of our season and the accomplishments of this team.”
Punches and Smith both had 17 points, Packard had 15 and Clickner added 10.
Farwell also had its season come to an end in its district opener, falling to host Evart 59-47 on Monday in class ‘C’ district play.
“Tough loss, always sad to end a season,” Schunk said.
Farwell and Evart were tied at 15-all after the first though the Eagles pulled ahead slightly by the half, 23-22.
Farwell continued to lead at 37-36 after the third, but the Wildcats controlled the fourth to end the Eagles’ season.
Marhofer finished with 12 points and eight rebounds and Robinson added 10 points. Baginski had seven points, with Mosby and Hickey both scoring six.
Farwell finished the season with a 9-12 overall record and went 7-7 in the JPC to come in fourth place. The nine wins is believed to be the most wins in one season since 1998 and the third best record in the past 23 years.