CRESTON — The Clarke girls basketball team struggled on the glass in a 59-46 loss to Creston here on Monday.
Creston outrebounded the Lady Indians 39-15, keeping Clarke from being able to stage a comeback.
The Lady Indians fell to 9-3 for the season with the loss.
“When you don’t defend and when you don’t rebound, when you only get 15 rebounds in one game, you will not beat anybody,” head coach Eric Zoske said. “This is not our best game by far. If I had to grade it, it’s about a D-.”
Despite the rebounding woes, Clarke three times cut the Panther lead to four points in the fourth quarter.
But, after a pair of Kylar McCann free throws made the score 47-43 with 2:42 remaining, Creston went on a 12-3 run to close out the game, shooting 11-of-13 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter to pull away.
“Give them all the credit in the world,” Zoske said. “They’re apparently faster than us, and they play a lot harder than we do. You put those two situations together, and sometimes that’s a recipe for success when you play a team that was not ready to play, and that was us. Give them credit, because they made us look like a very poor team today.”
McCann led Clarke with 17 points, including 9-of-11 shooting from the free throw line. Senior Sarah Pate chipped in 11 points as the only other player to reach double figures.
Creston sophomore Natalie Mostek drew the defensive assignment on Kacey Klemesrud, and held Klemesrud to just five points.
“They have some pretty good players,” Creston head coach Larry McNutt said. “I don’t think they shot particularly well, but we did a good job of rebounding and got the ball where we needed to.
“Natalie has the toughest defensive assignment every night. She kind of kept (Klemesrud) from penetrating, and Natalie has some length on her, so that makes it tough sometimes on point guards. I thought we did a nice job on her, because we definitely had to keep her under wraps, and we did for the most part.”
Devon Carson added seven points for Clarke, while Libby Bemis netted six points.
Zoske said his team will need to bounce back quick with key conference matchups coming up today and Friday.
“We have to get things figured out,” Zoske said. “We have a tough game Thursday and Friday. We’ve got Centerville and Eddyville. Thankfully we’re still in the lead in the conference, but right now that isn’t going to matter because we have to get better.”
Clarke got a big conference win on Friday, 57-25 over Chariton.
The Lady Indians overcame a slow start, which has plagued the team in recent games, to pull away.
“Once again, we started slow,” Zoske said. “We played a decent second half, but once again, not our best game there, either. This is the time in the season you want to be playing your best basketball, and honestly, we’re not doing that right now. Thankfully we still have a few games here to get it figured out. And with these seniors we have, I know we’ll get it figured out here soon.”