Pioneers in control, eek out win over RC

February 9, 2018

by Ben Murphy
Sports Writer

It wasn’t a league game but Tuesday night’s road victory by Clare in Reed City was still a solid showing against strong Reed City team. The Pioneers, who have now won 11 games on the boys basketball season, notched a 60-56 victory over the Coyotes.

“I feel like we did a lot of good things in this game,” head coach Matt Alexander said. “We controlled the game from start to finish. They have a tough press and once we made adjustments to it we were able to attack the press and get some easy buckets.”

In the first quarter, Tyler Rodenbo and Nick Roe each hit a three to get the Pioneers off to a good start, leading 23-19 after one quarter.

Roe buried another three in the second quarter and Tyler Smith chipped in seven points in the frame, lifting Clare to a 36-31 margin at the break.

Clare hung to a similar 48-44 lead entering the fourth quarter and got eight more points by Smith in the fourth to have just enough for the win.

“One area that this team needs to get better at is controlling the game down the stretch when we have the lead in a close game,” Alexander said. “I thought Smith and Kaden Kelly stepped up big and had to play the entire game in the absence of Jeff Allen, who was out sick.  Reed City has some size and they were able to rotate a number of guys in against Tyler and Kaden and they stepped up to the challenge.  Our guards did a great job handling their pressure and got the ball into the right spots on the floor.”

Smith finished with 24 points, 13 rebounds and six steals, Kelly added 11 points and 11 rebounds, Roe added 10 points and Brenden Sersaw had seven points. Tanner Punches had four points, six rebounds, two steals and two assists.

Clare also picked up a road Jack Pine Conference win against Roscommon on Friday, notching a 60-47 victory.

“We got back on track and came out ready to play and jumped ahead quickly,” Alexander said. “Roscommon played tough and never quit we were just able to control the game on both ends of the floor.  It was a great game for us giving us the opportunity to get playing time for all of our guys.”

The Pioneers led 18-11 after one quarter, 34-21 at the half and 51-32 entering the fourth quarter.

Sersaw had a big game with 20 points, Smith had another double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds, Kelly had 10 points and 13 boards and Allen had seven points and four rebounds. Rodenbo had eight assists and four steals to go along with his four points.

On Wednesday, Jan. 31 Clare lost a JPC game in Harrison, 53-46.

“We got off to a slow start along with them hitting some big shots to start the game and we couldn’t get over the hump the rest of the game,” Alexander said. “Credit to Harrison, they were ready to play and we didn’t match their intensity at the start.  We made runs at them through out the game but again they would hit a timely shot or we would miss a opportunity.”

Smith had 19 points and 12 rebounds in the loss, Kelly added 10 points and five boards, Sersaw had nine points, three steals and three assists and Punches had six points and four rebounds.

Clare (11-3 overall, 7-3 JPC) hosts Gladwin tonight (Friday) and hosts Beaverton on Friday, Feb. 16.

“With six games remaining in the regular season I like where this team is,” Alexander said. “We still have a few things to tighten up before districts start but I am confident that these guys will get that done.”

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