by Ben Murphy
Now that is an exciting way to start a new year. Clare, playing their first boys basketball game of January on Tuesday, hosted Reed City in a non-conference game and used a drive to the lane by Al Warner in the final seconds to pick up a thrilling 47-46 victory.
“Wow, what a game to come out of break with,” head coach Matt Alexander said. “First game back is always tough working out the rust and getting back in the groove. Reed City is a good team and we knew it would be a battle. Both teams play a similar style so we knew we just had to handle the pressure they put on teams and not turn the ball over. I thought we came out a little sloppy to start which is expected first game back but once we settled in the pressure really didn’t bother us.”
In the opening quarter, Jacob Recker scored all 10 of the team’s points, as Reed City held a slight 11-10 lead after one. Ritchie Montgomery buried a pair of threes in the second, but the Coyotes held on to their slim lead at the half, 25-24.
Reed City increased its lead slightly entering the fourth, 37-34 and nursed a 46-45 advantage until the final moments, where Warner got what Alexander called “a tough layup” for the victory.
“This was a great win for us, I thought we showed a lot of composure throughout,” Alexander said. “The guys battled and stayed focused on what we needed to do. This was a great team win.”
Recker finished his night with 17 points and 16 rebounds, Montgomery finished with nine, Miles Haggart put in six, Warner finished with five, Caden Dunn had two and Dawson John chipped in with one.
“We talked about keys being limiting turnovers, rebounding, free throws and keeping the pressure on them,” Alexander said. “I thought we did a good job for the most part with that. We usually shoot free throws well but struggled from the line (this game). If we make it’s the game doesn’t come down to the final seconds.”
Clare (4-1 overall) was at Harrison on Thursday, hosts Beaverton on Tuesday and stays at home to play Meridian on Thursday.