by Ben Murphy
The Clare boys basketball team played well early on in their non-conference game at Big Rapids on Tuesday. The Pioneers couldn’t keep the good times going in the second half however, fand this led to them coming up short in the game, falling 65-53.
“We played a really good first half, we executed and really got after them defensively,” head coach Matt Alexander said. “The second half, we just seem to lose that fire. We weren’t getting the 50-50 balls like we did in the first half and our defensive intensity just wasn’t as good.”
Ritchie Montgomery had an impressive opening quarter, hitting a pair of threes and scoring 10 points. The Pioneers were able to hold a 24-22 lead after one.
Miles Haggart netted four of the team’s 10 points in the second, as they led 34-31 at the half.
That Pioneers faced a 48-43 hole entering the fourth though, and despite threes in that quarter by Montgomery and Ryan Louch, they couldn’t get back in the game.
“I feel we made some nice improvements and now we just have to continue to grow as a team,” Alexander said.
Montgomery led the team with 17 points, Mike Franko was able to put in 11, Louch finished with nine, Haggart scored seven, with four was Karson Tocco, Keagan Hill netted three and Nic Porter was able to add two.
On Thursday, Jan. 12 Clare was able to pick up a home Jack Pine Conference win over inner-county rival Harrison, 59-44.
“We got off to a slow start and just had a hard time getting going,” Alexander said. “Once we settled in and executed offensively we took control of the game. Our size inside was a big difference in the game.”
The Hornets had Connor Kirby break free for 13 points, including a pair of threes. Clare had Haggart, who was making his season debut, put in four points, as Harrison led 15-13 after one.
Kirby was able to hit another three in the second quarter, but the Pioneers, behind seven points by Montgomery in the second, were able to claim a 26-19 lead at the half.
The Pioneers held a 37-31 lead entering the fourth and used a big 11 point fourth quarter by Haggart to help secure the win.
“With the return of Miles Haggart, who has been out from a football injury, he really gave us a spark when he entered the game,” Alexander said. “We have really missed his presence at both ends of the floor along with his leadership. We were able to take advantage of our size and strength inside and the guys did a nice job of executing and finding those guys at the right time.
Harrison played hard and Kirby had a night for them scoring 33. It seemed like even when we had a guy in his face he was still knocking down shots.”
The Pioneers had Haggart finish with 18 points, Louch scored 12 points, Montgomery put in 11 points, Franko netted eight, Ryan Rodenbo was able to score five, Chase Randall added three and Porter and Tocco were able to add one point each.
For the Hornets, to go along with Kirby’s 33 points Logan Williams netted four, Talon Hamilton had three and with two apiece was Chris Benoit and Zach Lighthall.
Clare (3-7 overall, 3-3 JPC) heads to Meridian today (Friday) and plays league leading Shepherd next Friday.
Harrison (1-6 overall, 1-5 JPC) will play at home against Beaverton today and returns to action next Friday when it hosts Pinconning.