By Ben Murphy
Clare looked like a veteran-laden team destined for a deep March run. Harrison looked like a team rebuilding for things to come. The Lady Pioneers easily handled the Lady Hornets at home Tuesday night, winning the Jack Pine Conference girls’ basketball game 72-32.
“I thought we came out and established control of the game early,” Clare head coach Matt Rodenbo said. “We found the open player and knocked down shots early on. We got up and down the floor really well.”
Already ahead 3-2 Clare’s Kodi Humphrey hit a three-pointer to make it 6-2 and Lindsay Winter scored 16 of her game-high 19 points in the quarter to help the Pioneers take a commanding 29-13 after the first quarter.
“That girl has such charisma and demands such attention on the court,” Harrison head coach Kelly Cook said of Winter. “For us, when she was off the court, we got to see what next year will be like. You take her out and we did well at times.”
Winter hit a free-throw to start the Clare offense up 30-13 moments into the second quarter and Lexi Harton came off the bench to bury a deep two-pointer that made it 32-13.
Later in the quarter, Alex Stark had a lay-in, Harton had a fast-break bucket, Corinne Wezensky had a put-back basket and Stark added a mid-range jumper to make it a 43-15 Clare lead.
Wezensky followed that up with a rare three-pointer , Harton hit another deep two and Wezensky and Stark both added fast-break baskets to bring the Clare lead to 52-15 with four minutes still left to play in the half.
Harrison got a free-throw by Lexi LaChappa and a steal and fast-break basket by Dani Cullen but Clare still led 56-18 lead at the half.
Wezensky scored four early points in the third quarter to extend Clare’s lead to 60-20, enforcing a running clock the rest of the night.
“Harton came in and did a nice job,” Rodenbo said. “She’s still learning but she’s coming along nicely. Stark had a well rounded game for us too. Really, everybody did a solid job.”
Winter, Stark and Kodi Humphrey also had two points for the Pioneers in the third, with Ashleigh Woolston scoring four and Cullen netting two for Harrison’s only points, making it 66-24 after three.
Harton, Amanda Yats and Morgan English all had two points for Clare in the fourth, Nichole Willman had three for Harrison Jessica Scherrer had four and Cullen hit a free-throw as the teams played to the lopsided final.
“My kids never gave up,” Cook said. “I asked all 10 to play hard tonight and they all came and played hard. We only had 19 points the first time we played them so to score over 30 this time is great. It’s the little things that are important to us. We’re struggling right now but I think next year will be a fun year for us.”
Clare was led by Winter and Wezensky both scoring 19 points with Winter adding nine steals, eight rebounds and seven assists, Stark had nine points, five steals, four assists and four rebounds, Harton had eight points, Kodi Humphrey had six and Morgan English had four points and seven rebounds.
Willman, Kate Sherrick and Woolston all had six for Harrison with Cullen and LaChappa both adding five.
On Thursday, Jan. 30 Clare played at Beaverton, winning the JPC contest 57-39.
“They’re a very good team,” Rodenbo said. “We got up by 20 at half so that was nice to see. We established control of that game fairly quick.”
Winter had 11 first quarter points and Wezensky had five to help put Clare up 16-9 after the first, with Winter adding seven more in the second and Wezensky and Kodi Humphrey both had four to make it 31-14 at the half.
Winter continued her scoring barrage in the third, netting nine points while Stark hit-home a three-pointer as Clare cruised to a 45-27 lead entering the fourth.
Winter finished up the fourth with six more points, with Stark and English also netting two points as the teams played to the 57-39 final.
Winter finished with 33 points, Wezensky had nine, Kodi Humphrey had six, Stark had five, Olivia Cooper and English both had two.
Clare (13-1 overall, 11-0) played at Meridian on Thursday and hosts Beal City on Tuesday.
Harrison also hosted Roscommon on Thursday, Jan. 30, falling 51-35.
The Hornets trailed just 12-10 after the first quarter thanks to getting four points in the frame by Cullen and two apiece by Sherrick, Toni Fletcher and Scherrer.
The Lady Bucks pulled ahead 29-19 by the half, despite a seven point second quarter effort by Sherrick.
Harrison hit just two field-goals in the third quarter as they fell further behind, trailing 45-26 entering the fourth.
LaChappa had three points in the fourth quarter and Nico Juan, Carli Bushell and Cullen all hit field-goals as well but Rosommon easily hung on for the 51-35 final.
Scherrer led Harrison with 11 points, LaChappa had five, Fletcher had four and Willman had three.
Harrison (0-14 overall, 0-11 JPC) played at Farwell on Thursday and hosts Marion on Tuesday.