ALBIA — The Clarke boys basketball competed well in an 89-65 loss to Albia here on Friday.
The 24-point loss didn't reflect how close the game was, head coach James Larson said.
"I thought we played them pretty well for three quarters, but kind of had a few calls not go our way and had a few injuries to start the fourth and lost it from there," he said. "We were down three going into the fourth. We lost by 24, but it really wasn't that bad."
Three of the five Clarke starters were sitting on the bench for the fourth quarter. Jared Jamison suffered an ankle injury, while Matt Blanchard was dealing with a knee issue and Carlos Tamayo took a hit to the head.
"We've got to make sure we get healthy and heal up before the start of the second half of the season," Larson said.
Colin Morris scored 21 points in the first half, but tallied just four in the second half to finish with 25. Brin Evins picked up some of slack early in the second half, as Clarke worked on getting the ball inside to Evins.
"We didn't get the ball to Colin enough in the second half," Larson said. "We got the ball inside to Brin Evins in the third quarter. I think if we had found Colin a little more, we could have had a game. Of course, if you let a player score 40 points on you, its going to be tough to win."
Larson said he thought Evins recorded a double-double in the win. Official stats from the game were not available at press time.
"He had a good game for us," Larson said. "I was hoping we'd eventually get that from him. We just don't get the ball inside to him, and finally we did. Albia doesn't have much size inside, and we took advantage of it."
Clarke enters the holiday break with a record of 1-6. Friday's game against Albia was a perfect example of what Larson says his team needs to work on for the second half of the season.
"We've learned we can compete with almost every team," he said. "With the exception of the Carlisle game we had, if we hit a few shots, we easily could be 6-1 or 5-2. We're realizing we can compete with anyone we play on most nights. We just need to win a game right now. Any given night we're going out there, we're competing. We just still haven't figured out how to win a game yet."
Larson said three key areas his team needs to improve on in the second half of the season are boxing out, holding opponents to fewer points and gaining confidence.
"I always tell my kids, the number one thing in basketball is boxing out," he said. "We need to keep working on boxing out and our defense needs to improve as a whole. We do a good job of scoring as a team, but we just give up too many points. We need to make those big stops when it comes down to crunch time."
The Indians return to action on Jan. 3 at Martensdale-St. Marys. The first post-break home game is Jan. 7 against Centerville.