Pioneers Roll in District Final Amidst MHSAA Stoppage

March 23, 2020

Mason Clark brings thew ball down he court in a game at Harrison. Photo by Shannon Zinser
Shane Jenkins brings the ball down. Photo by Shannon Zinser
Hunter Woolston knocks down a field goal during a home this season. Photo by Shannon Zinser

by Ben Murphy
Sports Writer

The Clare boys basketball team was starting to get the look of a district championship team. The division two district host Pioneers took care of business once again on Wednesday, March 11, as they defeated Chippewa Hills 67-33 in the semi-finals. The win improved the Pioneers’ record to 17-5 overall and set them up for a district championship game against Tawas Area (9-12) Friday night. The MHSAA however announced on Thursday that it would suspended the winter post-season tournaments immediately and indefinitely amid the Coronavirus outbreak.

“We still had things clicking, guys had reached another level of being focused and were playing some really good basketball,” head coach Matt Alexander said. “Jacob Recker came in and had a big night off the bench for us and Lane Ingram and Hunter Woolston still had it going. Shane Jenkins did a great job, as well as Mason Clark and Todd Lake.”

The Pioneers got off to a nice start, thanks to a seven point first quarter by Recker and six more points by Jenkins, giving Clare a 16-10 after one.

In the second, Ingram was able to bury a pair of threes and net 11 points total, as it was a 34-18 Pioneer lead at the break.

Clare showed no signs of slowing down in the third as it got 10 points in the quarter by Woolston and eight more by Recker, as the Pioneers held a comfortable 58-22 lead entering the fourth.

The highlight of the fourth was a three pointer by Josh Gould as Clare coasted to the lopsided final.

Leading the way on offense was Recker with 21 points, Ingram netted 17, Woolston finished with 15, Jenkins added nine, Gould chipped in with three and Clark netted two.

Now, the Pioneers must sit and wait to see if and when the post-season resumes. While the MHSAA has not officially cancelled the tournament, signs aren’t looking particularly promising.

“I’m heartbroken for the seniors,” Alexander said. “We understand the decision, but it is still hard to see the season come to an end like this and not allow these seniors to have closure.”

Alexander admits that when he learned of the stoppage in action, it was a tough message to relay to his squad.

“Telling our group of seniors that the season was most likely done last Thursday, instead of preparing to win a district championship was tough,” Alexander said. “As a coach I hope that I can give these young men more than basketball and that my guidance includes dealing with tough situations that that they will face the rest of their lives. We just have to use this as another life lesson and hope that it will help them be better men in the long run. We owe a lot to this group of seniors for what they have done for this team and program and in my eyes they are champions on and off the court.”

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