By Ben Murphy
With their third straight Jack Pine Conference title already in hand, the Clare Lady Pioneers made easy work of host Roscommon Tuesday night, winning the JPC girls basketball game 57-18.
“We were a little up and down tonight,” Clare head coach Matt Rodenbo said of his squad’s 16th straight victory. “Played well then got a bit sloppy. Overall though we played well.”
Clare outscored Roscommon in every frame, leading 12-2 after the first and 29-5 at the half. Clare continued to outplay the Lady Bucks in the third, outscoring them 18-6 and padded its lead with a 10-7 margin in the fourth.
Lindsay Winter hit four three-pointers to finish with 20 points while also adding six steals defensively. Melissa Benchley had 10 points and nine steals, Ashley Petree had nine points and six rebounds and Courtney English finished with seven points
On Thursday, Feb. 14 Clare topped visiting Gladwin 66-32 in a game that clinched the JPC title for the Pioneers.
“It was nice to send our seniors out with a win that clinched the JPC,” Rodenbo said. “This senior group has represented our school and community very well during their careers at Clare High School. I am very proud of them.”
Clare led just 18-12 after the first quarter but stormed ahead 36-16 at the half and 54-24 entering the fourth, where they outscored the Flying G’s 12-8.
Winter finished with 24 points and eight steals, English scored 11, Benchley added 10 and Petree scored six.
Clare (18-1 overall, 13-0 JPC) played at Farwell on Thursday and opens district play on Wednesday at Reed City, facing the host Lady Coyotes (15-3). The district finals will be played on Friday, with Big Rapids, Chippewa Hills and Farwell on the other side of the bracket.
“They are a well coached team that plays hard nose physical basketball,” Rodenbo said. “Big Rapids comes in undefeated, they are a very athletic team that uses their defensive pressure to ignite their offense. You also have a young up and coming team in Chip Hills. Farwell has improved throughout the season and is well coached. The team that comes out of this district will be battle tested without question and will have to play well to win it.”