Clare narrowly escapes Shepherd, 63-59

March 9, 2018

by Ben Murphy
Sports Writer

Clare could never quite pull away from Shepherd, but it had just enough to hang on for a district quarter final win Monday night. The Pioneers, playing the game at Chippewa Hills, won the game despite missing a key player, 63-59.

“It was a battle, we had to make some adjustments to our rotation but in the end the guys got the job done,” head coach Matt Alexander said. “Shepherd was fast and physical. They did a good job of handling our pressure.”

Tyler Smith had a big first quarter, hitting the nets for seven points, with Nick Roe hitting a three to give Clare a 15-13 edge after one.

Clare boys basketball team.  Photo by Bob Guiliani

Clare boys basketball team.
Photo by Bob Guiliani

In the second, Smith added six more points, four of which from the line and Roe chipped in with four points, helping the Pioneers extend their lead to 32-25 by the half.

Smith’s hot night continued in the third as he hit for six more points in the paint, though the Blue Jays pulled within 46-40 entering the fourth.

Clare missed nine free throws in the final quarter but did get eight points by Kaden Kelly, who was six-of-six from the line to help close out the win.

“Smith really led us to victory, he played a really good game and he came up big for us,” Alexander said. “Jeff Allen came off the bench and gave us some really good minutes. We did a nice job of limiting their runs and executing down the stretch to keep the game in our favor.”

Smith finished with 22 points and nine rebounds, Kelly added 14 points and nine boards, Roe netted eight points, Allen had five and Tyler Rodenbo had four. Punches rounded out his night with five steals, five assists and four rebounds.

On Thursday, March 1 the Pioneers finished up their regular season with an 81-56 road victory  over Houghton Lake.

“We jumped out to a big lead early, led by Rodenbo and his defense and decision making on the offensive end,” Alexander said. “Our defense set the tone from the beginning, only giving up 10 first quarter points and 11 in the second. Our defense allowed us to get out and run with high percentage shots.”

Brenden Sersaw had 22 points by the half, 11 in each of the opening quarters to help the Pioneers to leads of 32-10 and 56-21.

Clare held a healthy lead of 76-39 entering the fourth.

Sersaw finished with 22 points, six assists and four rebounds, Kelly had 14 points and seven boards, Roe had 13 points and Smith had 10 points and eight rebounds. Rodenbo finished with eight points and eight assists.

Clare (18-3 overall, 11-3 JPC) played Central Montcalm on Wednesday in the district semi-final with the championship set for tonight (Friday). The district winner moves on to Monday’s non-traditional regional semi-final.

Brenden Sersaw was huge for us in the first half, scoring 22 points.

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