The Clarke girls basketball team improved its record to 8-2, with wins against Davis County and Mount Ayr fresh off of break.
The Lady Indians won an important South Central Conference game 54-46 against Davis County here on Jan. 4.
Head coach Eric Zoske said he talked with his team prior to the game about how important it was.
“We talked about it before the game, it being the most important game of the season as of that day,” Zoske said. “We knew if we lost that game, we wouldn’t be first place in the conference. We knew what was at stake and on the line, and the girls stepped up. Everyone stood out as far as how well we played together.”
The game marked the return of Kacey Klemesrud, playing in her first game since Dec. 7 when she suffered a concussion after sustaining a hit to the face.
Klemesrud made a big impact in her return, scoring 15 points while shooting 9-of-13 from the free throw line, with most of those free throws coming down the stretch as Clarke pulled away from Davis County.
“That was her welcome back game, and she did a great job,” Zoske said of Klemesrud. “She’s a tough girl. She got hit a couple of time, but came back every time. She made a lot of free throws down the stretch in the fourth quarter.”
Klemesrud, along with the two other seniors — Kylar McCann and Sarah Pate — stepped up in the key conference matchup.
McCann led the Lady Indians with 16 points and five steals, while Pate added 11 points and a team-high six rebounds.
“It’s great to see the three seniors step up,” Zoske said. “Davis County was second in the conference and had the two leading rebounders in conference, one of the leading scorers in conference and a guard who was leading assists in the conference. We knew what we were going up against, and our seniors stepped up.”
Zoske also praised junior Devon Carson, who netted nine points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field. Carson also added three steals.
“She’s such a silent assassin-type player,” Zoske said. “She’s shooting 51 percent for the year. She’s such a difference-maker. Her nine points were as big as anyone’s points that night.”
Clarke followed up its win over Davis County with a 72-53 win at Mount Ayr on Monday, in what turned out to be a physical game of runs.
Mount Ayr jumped out to a 15-3 lead over the Lady Indians in the first quarter, but after a timeout, the Lady Indians settled down and started hitting shots.
“This game was a bareknuckle streetfight,” Zoske said. “We were 19-of-44, so we shot pretty well. Once we got the defense figured out and woke up, we played pretty well. We weren’t ready for them at the start, but once we woke back up, we were ready to fight back.”
The three seniors once again led the way, as Klemesrud scored 25 points while McCann added 20 and Pate netted 15. McCann led Clarke with five steals. Carson and Libby Bemis each grabbed six rebounds to lead the team.
The Lady Indians shot 20-of-25 from the free throw line and 5-of-10 from beyond the 3-point arc.
“I’ll take that any day,” Zoske said. “It was just a matter of one of those nights, starting halfway through the first quarter, any open shot — it wasn’t just going in, it was nothing but net. I’m not sure what got into them, but hopefully we can keep doing that.”
The Lady Indians return to action on Friday with a key conference home game against Chariton, before traveling to Creston on Monday.