One step forward, one step back
TIFFIN– For 30 minutes, it was a pretty good ball game for the Clippers Friday, Dec. 6, in Tiffin asClear Creek Amana (CCA) took on the Marion Indians in a varsity matchup, leading for most of the game. The ending however, was a different story.
“Everything you can do wrong in the last two minutes, we did.” So said CCA coach Steve Ottoson of the 63-60 loss. The Clippers took the first period 13-12 with baskets by Drew Wagner, Jake Neubauer, Aaron Akers, Jacob Klingeman and back-to-back buckets by Nile Rourke. Wagner scored on a rebound in the second period for a 15-14 lead while Klingeman and Cal Miller sank 3-pointers for a 31-29 halftime advantage.
The game knotted up at 35-all in the third before Wagner scored on another put-back, a Mitch Stopko layup made it 39-36 and Klingeman’s third 3-pointer of the night put CCA up 47-38. The Indians scored on their own 3-pointer to end the period at 47-41.
The fateful final eight minutes saw the Clippers’ lead erode with a pair of Indian long bombs and field goals. A Rourke shot took a few trips around the rim before finally dropping through for a 54-49 advantage, but then the ship began to break up.
“The last two-and-a-half minutes, we didn’t take care of the basketball,” Ottoson said. “I probably made a mistake there with three minutes left, with just under three minutes, we called a time-out, put our ball handling team in to kind of spread the court. We had poor spacing, we got ourselves trapped and we gave the ball right back to them, then they hit a three (point shot).”
That 3-pointer gave Marion a one-point edge, 59-58. A free throw made it 60-58, but with 9.6 seconds remaining, Cody Wagner sank one of two free throws for the Clippers. Three more shots from the charity stripe, countered only by one from Rourke, made up the final score.
Rourke, a junior, led the Clippers with an 18-point night.
“There are no excuses,” Ottoson said. “I told the guys we need to expect to win, and we need to make a play.” Overall though the coach said, “we played a lot of guys, and each one gave us good minutes.”
Ottoson and company opened the season Tuesday, Dec. 3, with a 65-55 road win in Independence against the Mustangs. The Clippers trailed by two points at the end of the first period but rallied back to a 33-24-halftime lead. At the end of three periods, CCA had a slim two-point lead at 46-44 before a 19-point effort in the final eight minutes closed out the night.
Rourke and Stopko both had a 14-point showing to lead CCA; Nick Steger of Independence led the Mustangs with 13.
The Clippers will look for good fortune Friday, Dec. 13, as the Stormin’ Pointers from Center Point-Urbana come to town. The frosh/soph game tips off at 4:30 p.m., junior varsity is set for 6 p.m. with the varsity match around 7:30 p.m.