For the second straight season, Clarke head girls basketball coach Eric Zoske came into his team’s senior night with a group of seniors he knew he could count on.
And, for the second season in a row, his team came away with a big win on senior night, sending those seniors off in style here Friday night.
This time, the Lady Indians scored a 56-51 win over South Central Conference leading Albia, which was previously unbeaten in conference play.
The Lady Dees entered the game with a 13-4 record overall.
“If someone has to shake up the conference a little bit, it might as well be us,” Zoske said. “Once again, we had three seniors do everything they possibly could and left it all out on the floor to make sure their last home game, they walked off with a win.”
Zoske said two keys to the victory were having a good game plan coming into the game, and having post player Baylie Balcaen back in the lineup.
Balcaen missed the team’s first game against Albia with a knee injury, as the Lady Dees rolled to a 57-32 win in that contest.
“Baylie was able to play this game, so she made a big difference for us,” Zoske said. “You watch the game or you look at the stats, and Baylie had only a couple of points and a couple of rebounds, but when she’s not on the floor, we are a different team. She had one of the best rebounds I’ve ever seen of a high school female athlete that night.”
But, Friday night was all about the seniors, and Zoske’s seniors put on a performance for the home crowd.
Libby Bemis led the Lady Indians with 22 points and eight rebounds. Bemis shot 9-of-12 from the free throw line in the game. Devon Carson netted 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the floor and grabbed six boards.
Senior Carley Robins scored eight points for Clarke to go with three assists and three steals. Fellow senior Ashley Heston also started for the Lady Indians on senior night.
“Libby’s been clicking on offense,” Zoske said. “Earlier in the year, she was getting her fair share of points, but she was kind of forcing it. Now, she’s just playing and having fun doing it.”
Clarke shot 20-of-24 from the free throw line as a team against Albia, which played an important role in the close game.
The Lady Indians trailed by six points entering the fourth quarter, but Clarke outscored Albia 27-16 in the final quarter for the win.
“I think we missed three field goals in the fourth quarter and maybe one free throw,” Zoske said. “We were doing a good job of being aggressive. Albia had to go man-to-man, because we were hitting our shots from the outside. They go man-to-man and we were getting free throws off of pick-and-roll sets. Free throws are contagious.”
Zoske said he was also impressed with Maddi Heath’s play at the point guard position. Heath has only turned the ball over twice in the team’s past two games.
The win makes it three in a row for the Lady Indians, who have just two regular season games remaining before regional play begins on Feb. 15 at North Polk.
“We lost four games by a total of seven points,” Zoske said. “You can always learn something from that. These last three games we’ve played, our girls have shown they’ve learned from this season.”
In a Jan. 28 win over Centerville, Robins became the school’s single-season record holder for made 3-pointers.
Earlier in the season, Robins broke the all-time career mark for made 3-pointers.
Robins currently has 44 3-pointers for the season, which broke the previous mark of 42. She has made 87 3-pointers for her career.
Clarke returns to action Friday at Davis County and finishes the regular season Saturday at Winterset.