Tale of two halves
It took the Creston girls basketball team 23 minutes and 54 seconds to finally take a lead in its game against Clarke here Monday.
After taking its first lead just before the end of the third quarter, the Panthers went on to secure a 45-43 win over the Lady Indians for their second straight win.
The way things went for the Panthers in the first half, a victory seemed improbable.
"I don't know if you can play any worse than we did in the first half," Creston head coach Larry McNutt said. "We just were really bad the first half. We didn't do what the game plan was and I thought our effort wasn't very good."
Meanwhile, Clarke started out well in the first half. Carley Robins got loose for a pair of 3-pointers, and Devon Carson was successful at getting to the basket off drives.
Clarke started the game on a 10-2 run, and held a 16-10 lead after one quarter as Robins hit a 3-pointer just before the horn.
The lead ballooned to 30-19 in the second quarter when Robins hit Libby Bemis for a layup. But, Creston sophomore Taylor Briley hit a jumper from the wing to send the Panthers into the half trailing 30-21.
Briley netted 10 points in the first half, knocking down four jumpers from the wing and getting a steal and converting it into a layup.
"I would hate to know what the score would have been at halftime if Taylor hadn't made some shots for us," McNutt said. "She did a good job on that ball reversal of getting inside the 3-point line and getting 15, 17-footers. That's the type of shots we need to have. She did a good job there."
The Panthers came storming out of the gates in the second half, however and quickly cut the Clarke lead to 30-27 thanks to layups from Natalie Mostek and Briley.
After a Mostek jumper and layup, the margin was cut to 32-31 with 3:10 left in the third.
Following a Clarke timeout, the Lady Indians quickly made it 36-31. But, the Panthers went on another mini-run, finally taking their first lead on a Jenna Taylor jumper with :06 left in the quarter.
"I talked about having heart and said we'll find out if we have heart," McNutt said. "I'd say we have a lot of heart. We came back and got some steals second half. It was a nice team effort the second half."
Bemis got a basket to start the fourth quarter, giving Clarke a 38-37 lead, but it was the last lead of the night for the Lady Indians.
Camryn Somers had a pair of offensive rebounds for putbacks down the stretch, both times breaking a tie. Somers recorded a team-high nine rebounds, four of which were offensive boards.
Briley and Taylor each made 1-of-2 free throws in the final minute to preserve the win for the Panthers. Both players finished with 13 points.
"I apologize to anyone who paid money to come watch us play basketball, because that was the worst half of basketball I've ever seen out of a basketball team," Clarke head coach Eric Zoske said. "We have a nine-point lead, scored 30 points in the first half. They didn't make any changes. We come out and just gave it to them. That was a late Christmas present to Creston."
Clarke dropped to 3-12 for the season with the loss.
Bemis scored 15 points to lead the Indians, while Carson added 12 and Robins scored 10.
The Lady Indians travel to Eddyville-Blakesburg on Friday.
In Clarke's 61-34 win over Chariton on Friday, Robins became the school's all-time career leader in made 3-pointers.
Robins knocked down 6-of-10 3-point attempts in the game to score 28 points. That gave her 78 career 3-pointers, breaking the school record of 76. Following the Creston game, she stands at 80 3-pointers.
"That's a great thing for her," Zoske said. "The way she's done it, it's gotta be one of the most under-the-radar school record breaking events at Clarke. She secretly gets two to three 3-pointers a game, then all of a sudden, she's getting six a game.
"Congratulation to her. She's played with a lot of good players over the years, and she's been kind of under the radar. It's good to see her step out of that into the spotlight and really shattering the school record."
Robins also has a legitimate chance to break the school record for single season 3-pointers.
CLARKE (43) — Libby Bemis 6 1-2 13, Devon Carson 5 2-4 12, Carley Robins 4 0-1 10, Maddi Heath 2 0-0 4, Baylie Balcaen 2 0-0 4. Totals — 19 3-7 43. FG shooting — 19-44 (43 percent). 3-point goals — 2-6 (Robins 2). Steals — 6. Rebounds — 25. Turnovers — 18. Team fouls — 12. Fouled out — none.
CRESTON (45) — Taylor Briley 6 1-2 13, Jenna Taylor 5 3-4 13, Natalie Mostek 4 0-2 8, Camryn Somers 3 0-1 6, Chelcee Downing 1 2-3 5. Totals — 19 6-12 45. FG shooting — 19-50 (38 percent). 3-point goals — 1-6 (Downing 1). Rebounds — 27 (Somers 9, Taylor 7, Briley 5, Mostek 3, Olivia Nielsen 2). Assists — 13 (Briley 5, Downing 4, Somers 2). Steals — 10 (Briley 5, Taylor 2). Blocked shots — 6 (Taylor 4). Turnovers — 9. Team fouls — 13. Fouled out — none.
Clarke — 16 30 36 43
Creston — 10 21 37 45