Taking a lead into the fourth quarter, Clarke wasn’t able to hang to beat Earlham on Thursday’s senior night.
A late Earlham rally put the final score at 55-48. The explosive fourth quarter was what finally took down the Indians and keep Clarke from winning its second game of the season.
With senior night putting the boys’ game first, the team was able to watch the junior varsity play, gaining energy from the game, the band and the crowd piling into the gym.
“Watching the JV guys, I think the (varsity) guys liked that,” said Clarke head coach Jim Dingeman. “This kind of funny format, with us going before the girls, I really liked it. I thought it would be a chance for the guys to see it a little differently. ... We came out confident, shooting well and not just stepping down.”
Starting the game with a fast pace of play, and flying all over the floor with a free style is the way Dingeman wants to be able to play.
“We were confident that if we play offense the way we need to, and if we put forth the kind of defensive effort we know we can, I think we can beat anybody,” Dingeman said. “We’ve shown throughout the year that when we’ve got the effort, we just don’t quit.”
With the Indians missing their 16.6 point per game leading scorer Umar Bulis, they had to find scoring from other options. Casey Kindredstepped up in the first quarter, knocking down back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Indians a 6-1 lead.
Pressing off of made shots, the Indians caused some difficulty for Earlham, but the Cardinals ended the quarter on a hot streak, putting up nine points to cut the lead to four points.
Three-pointers continued to keep the Indians in the game, with Dalton Stubbe hitting two and Kamis Bulis and Casey Kindred knocking down one each.
“That’s the way we like to play,” Dingeman said with a smile.
Clarke’s press off made baskets and second-quarter zone defense helped limit Earlham’s offense on the way to a 28-20 halftime lead.
Earlham took the lead on nine unanswered points, which led to a timeout after Clarke’s first field goal took back the lead 30-29 at 3:22.
Earlham was able to put up points, but Dingeman said it wasn’t the Cardinal’s offense that propelled the run.
“They came out at us in really good defense in the third quarter,” Dingeman said. “We handled it better once we got composed and took the lead back.”
The Cardinals finished the game with 15 of its 24 fourth-quarter points coming from the charity stripe.
“It’s really the cliché, ‘if we had a few more minutes’ it would have swung back the other way,” Dingeman said.
The Indians honored seniors between the boys and girls game – Brian Avalos, Carlos Yanez and Landi Helgevold.
Dingeman had positive things to say about the work ethic of the group and their willingness to do whatever needed for the betterment of the team and Clarke program.
The unselfishness of the group, regardless of their task, was something Dingeman took pride in when talking about the three seniors.
“This year, these guys, and everybody, we haven’t won a lot of games. But, I wouldn’t want any other groups of guys,” Dingeman said. “I’m really glad to have everybody that I do, and they all work really hard.”
UP NEXT – Clarke travels to Truro to face Interstate 35 at 7 p.m. Thursday.