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Raiders finish well

Mount Ayr weathered an early deficit on its way to a convincing road win

OSCEOLA — Monday's road trip to Osceola proved as topsy-turvy as could be expected of a season opener with young players and new dynamics being put in place by both visiting Mount Ayr and hosts Clarke.

The Raiders, who at one point put together a 24-0 run in the first half after falling behind early, had to hold off the Indians multiple times in securing a 68-54 win in front of a raucous crowd at Clarke.

The Indians emptied their bench early and often as they employed a full-court press set to harass and fluster the Raiders, and for the early minutes of action, it succeeded.

As Mount Ayr's athletes became accustomed to the pace, the Raiders began to make plays and finish scoring opportunities, as a 14-6 deficit turned into a 30-14 lead midway through the second quarter.

“Our guys came in flat-footed and a little offbeat," Mount Ayr coach Bret Ruggles said. "They had a nice press and got a couple steals there early.”

Contributions came from all over, but no one on the court was more impressive than the duo of Dawson Frost (20 points) and Lucas Wurster (19 points), who dictated the pace as the half wore on.

Just when Mount Ayr seemed to be rolling along on in all facets, Clarke responded with a Payton Winship coast-to-coast bucket and a Cobey Robins triple that breathed back into Clarke's bench and fans.

Speedy senior guard Byron Rivera then scored six straight points for Clarke on his way to a team-high 17 points. Rivera showed the confidence of a grizzled veteran, which could prove vital as his 2.9 points per game a year ago are now likely to rocket skyward as he establishes himself as a scoring threat.

An 11-point halftime advantage dwindled to four when Dalton Stubbe hit one of his two treys to cut the score to 44-40.

“We talked at halftime, down 11 and talked about getting it back to six in the first two minutes," Clarke coach Jim Dingeman said.

Though Mount Ayr's offense slowed down, it soon benefited from a huge pick-me-up.

“We got stagnant in the third quarter and really stopped moving," Ruggles said. "Our four-out one-in is designed to get the ball to the wing, screen away and be able to get guys off screens.”

Mount Ayr freshman Payton Weehler then had his first big varsity moment.

Weehler hit a bucket near the end of the third quarter, and proceeded to knock down 3-pointers from the left wing on consecutive possessions to start the fourth to stretch the Raider lead to 56-43.

“Payton Weehler is a firecracker. He goes off pretty quick. He’s not a consistent guy, but he’ll do that," Ruggles said.

“He’s that spark off the bench we need and I thought he responded really well.”

While Clarke did cut the score to 60-52 after consecutive buckets by Garrett Moore that included a nifty alley-oop layup by Moore on the receiving end of a pass from Zach Smith, the Indians got no closer.

MA (68) — 23 16 11 18

Cl (54) — 14 14 15 11

MA (FG FT PTS) — Totals — 26 11-23 68. Dawson Frost 8 4-6 20, Lucas Wurster 8 1-1 19, Payton Weehler 5 0-2 12, Myles Greene 2 0-0 5, John Shields 1 3-6 5, Isaac Grose 2 0-2 4, Brad Wurster 0 3-6 3. 3-point goals — 5 (L. Wurster 2, Weehler 2, Greene 1). Assists — 7 (Greene 6). Rebounds — 34 (Shields 10, Grose 8, Frost 7, Weehler 3). Steals — 16 (L. Wurster 3, Greene 3, Frost 3, Weehler 3, Shields 3). Team fouls — 12. Fouled out — None.

Cl (FG FT PTS) — Totals — 20 7-14 54. Byron Rivera 7 2-3 17, Cobey Robins 4 2-2 14, Garrett Moore 3 0-0 6, Dalton Stubbe 2 0-0 6, Taylor Henry 1 0-0 3, Payton Winship 1 0-2 2,Trevor Boyce 1 0-0 2, Chris Carson 1 0-2 2, Remington Cook 1 0-0 2. 3-point goals — 7 (Robins 3, Stubbe 2, Rivera 1, Henry 1). Team fouls — 22. Fouled out — Robins.

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