By Ben Murphy
Photos by Ben Murphy
Clare’s varsity girls basketball team erupted out of the gates Friday night, easily handling host Houghton Lake 72-20 in a contest that doubled as their season and Jack Pine Conference opener.
“We established control of the game quickly,” Clare head coach Matt Rodenbo said. “It was a nice start to the season but we need to move forward and continue to improve. We have a lot of experience and it showed tonight.”
The Lady Pioneers wasted no time, as Melissa Benchley scored on a fastbreak off the opening tip just five seconds into the game. Ashley Petree grabbed a steal and added another fastbreak hoop to go up 4-0 and Corinne Wezensky scored on a putback to make it 6-0, with Petree later adding two free-throws to make it 13-0 just two minutes into the game.
Houghton Lake netted its first basket with 5:27 to play in the first to make it 13-2, though Lindsay Winter answered that with a three-pointer to make it 16-2 and the rout was officially on.
The Pioneers finished the first quarter ahead 34-2, eventually pulling ahead 42-2 in the second quarter before settling for a 59-14 lead at the half.
With a running-clock in the second half, Clare outscored the Lady Bobcats 13-4 in the third quarter before H-L scored the only points of the fourth quarter with two.
Clare made 13-of-15 from the free throw line and finished the night shooting 49 percent from the field, including hitting seven-of-15 from three-point land.
Winter finished with 27 points, making all eight of her two-point field goals and added six assists. Benchley put in 15 points along with five steals, Petree had 14 points, six steals, four rebounds and four assists, Courtney English had 10 points with Alex Stark adding three assists, three rebounds and three steals.
On Tuesday, the Lady Pioneers fell at home, 59-58 in overtime to Saginaw Nouvel.
“It was a back-and-forth most of the game,” Rodenbo said. “We had a few key turnovers late in the game. Nouvel is an outstanding team, playing this type of competition will help us down the stretch. Very proud of how hard our team competed.”
The Pioneers used a big 25 point third quarter to pull ahead 50-42 after the third, but Clare scored just four points in the fourth quarter as Nouvel forced the extra session.
Clare led 58-57 in the closing seconds, but Nouvel’s Rachel McInerney scored on a putback for the game winner.
Winter hit seven-of-11 shots from three-point land to finish with 33 points and added five rebounds and three steals, Wezensky added eight points and eight rebounds, English had seven points with Petree adding four assists and five rebounds.
Clare (1-1 overall, 1-0 JPC) played at JPC opponent Beaverton on Thursday and plays next on Tuesday, hosting Harrison in another league contest.