By Ben Murphy
At the end of a back-and-forth game, it took Clare senior Zach Pulcifer to decide the Pioneer’s fate in Monday night’s district opener at Big Rapids. Pulcifer hit a game winning three-pointer with two seconds left to propel Clare over Chippewa Hilla, 62-61.
“Great example of a senior stepping up in the tournament,” Clare head coach Rob Wise said.
Chippewa Hills pulled ahead 15-11 after the first quarter though Clare used a 16-9 scoring edge in the second to lead 27-24 at the half.
Chip Hills outscored Clare 17-16 in the third to cut Clare’s lead to 43-41 and the Chippewas took a slim 61-59 lead before Pulcifer’s heroics.
Scott Smith led Clare with 26 points, Hunter Ruby had 12 points, 17 rebounds, four assists and three blocks, Colton Punches had seven points and nine assists. Pulcifer finished with five points.
On Thursday, Feb. 28 Clare topped visiting Houghton Lake 61-46 in its regular season and Jack Pine Conference finale.
Clare held a slim 12-11 after the first quarter before pulling away to 27-15 at the half. The Pioneers continued their strong play by leading 41-25 entering the fourth, where the Bobcats outscored Clare 21-20 for the final.
“It was a good team win,” Wise said. “Everyone got involved and contributed.”
Smith led Clare with 11 points and 10 rebounds, Ruby had 10 points and eight boards, Connor Clickner had nine points, Spencer Harrell netted eight and Punches and Pulcifer both scored seven.
Clare (12-9 overall, 8-6 JPC) played Reed City (11-9) in the district semi-final on Wednesday. A win there puts them in the finals tonight against the winner of Farwell (4-16) and Big Rapids (19-1) tonight (Friday). Winner of the Big Rapids district plays in the Fremont regional on Monday and Wednesday.