By Ben Murphy
The 2012-13 basketball season was near magical for the Clare Lady Pioneers. The Clare girls went 23-2, racked up their
third straight Jack Pine Conference title, won districts and won the team’s first ever regional title before losing a one-point heart-breaker to Bullock Creek in the quarterfinals.
“I like where we’re at right now,” third year head coach Matt Rodenbo said. “We have three players with an abundance of experience and success. Some of our new players are getting better by the day. It is a nice mix right now.”
Back from that team are seniors Lindsay Winter (point guard, first team all-state, first team all JPC, school’s second
all-time leading scorer), Corrine Wezensky (center, JPC honorable mention), Alex Stark (guard, forward, JPC honorable mention), Kodi Humphrey (forward), Tara Pummell (guard), Haley Pulcifer (guard) and Amanda Yats (forward). New to the team are juniors Olivia Cooper (guard), Kenzie Humphrey (guard), Mackenzie Thayer (forward), Morgan English (center) and freshman Lexi Harton (forward).
“Obviously we are going to lean on Winter, Wezensky, and Stark,” Rodenbo said. “These players have played in several big games for this program over the years so they are tested. As far as a breakout player I think several have an opportunity to do that. Kodi Humphrey, Cooper, Kenzie Humphrey, and Harton will improve throughout the season as they get more experience at this level. I’m not counting out anybody on this team as far as gaining more minutes throughout the season. You never know for sure who is going to step up and play well.” The Pioneers have won three straight JPC titles, though the coach sees a few teams standing in their way of a four-peat.
“Beaverton has everybody back,” Rodenbo said. “Gladwin will be good and people would be making a mistake looking by Farwell. I think top to bottom the league will be competitive.”
Despite the scales weighing heavily in favor of another good year, Rodenbo isn’t taking anything for granted. “I don’t want to speculate on that,” he said.
“Last season was without a doubt special but this team will develop their own identity. I think the key for us will be to continue to improve throughout the season.”
Clare opened its season with a 64-37 win at Montabella Tuesday night.
The Pioneers opened fast, taking a 20-4 lead after the first quarter and pulled ahead 37-17 at the half. Clare outscored The Lady Mustangs 15-8 in the third with both teams netting 12 points in the fourth.
“Goof effort all the way around,” Rodenbo said of the win.
Winter hit four threepointers to finish with 22 points and added five steals, four rebounds and two assists. Wezensky had 13 points, eight rebounds and three steals, Codi Humphrey had eight points and eight rebounds, Stark had six points, nine rebounds and three steals and Thayer had four points and five rebounds.
Clare (1-0) plays at Gladwin tonight (Friday) in its JPC opener and plays at Saginaw Nouvel on Tuesday.