TIFFIN– Nile Rourke summed it up very succinctly.
“It feels good to start the New Year off right.”
The junior was talking about his Clear Creek Amana (CCA) Clippers’ 55-44 win Thursday night (Jan. 2) at home against the Vinton-Shellsburg Vikings. The win improved the squad’s record to 3-5 and took away some of the sting of a pre-Christmas loss to West Branch. “It was good to be in control and to keep it for the whole game. We’ve had trouble finishing games, so it’s about time we played a full game and finished and won a game,” Rourke said.
The Clippers took a 14-12 lead at the end of the first period fueled by baskets from Mitch Stopko, Jake Neubauer and Jacob Klingeman. Stopko and Klingeman both nailed 3-point bombs in the period. Stopko got his second 3-pointer of the night in the second period while Drew Wagner scored three times, once off a rebound. CCA led 24-23 at the half.
“We were only up by one, but it felt like we were up by more,” coach Steve Ottoson said. “It felt like we were controlling the game as far as what we wanted to do.”
In the third period, the Creek boys came out and launched an 18 point assault, which included a pair of 3-pointers by Josh Dillon, who came in off the bench. “Dillon, who hasn’t seen many minutes, comes in and knocks down two threes for us. That really gave us a lot of spark on the press. It’s kids like that, that give us a chance and make us better,” the coach said. Cal Miller also sank a pair of three-bombs, Rourke put up a field goal and Neubauer stole and score to give Creek a 42-31 lead going into the final eight minutes.
For Creek, the press was a new trick out of Ottoson’s bag.
“Over (the Christmas and New Year) break we worked on the press, we hadn’t done any of that before.” Despite maintaining the lead throughout, at times the veteran coach had fears of déjà vu. “For awhile it was just like, back, here we go again. That’s the way our last game was…and we can’t play that way. We’ve got too many guys that (can) play, we gotta get ‘em up and down.” Ottoson cycled through his bench throughout the game. “It’s not about me, it’s about us. It’s not I,” he said noting that’s one thing the team has been working on. “Hopefully that message got through,” he said. “We had starters on the bench cheering on their teammates.”
Rourke had his own déjà vu moments when Ottoson called for the press.
“It’s something we ran when we were younger, like freshman year, middle school.” Rourke added, “It fits our play style, which is transition. We got in the open court, and we were able to score.”
The six days of practice during the break was a golden opportunity for the coach and his staff. “We worked on some things we’ve wanted to work on,” Ottoson said pointing to a tough stretch coming up including hosting Solon, and road trips to Western Dubuque, Dyersville Beckman and DeWitt before hosting West Delaware on Friday, Jan. 17.
“Nobody has that schedule,” Ottoson said joking, “That’s 8,000 miles against some good teams.” He added, “we’re going to embrace it and have some fun with it. We’ve got enough guys we shouldn’t get tired… we’ll just see what happens.”
From the stats sheet:
Sagan 4-12 2-8 10. Dinderman 2-6 4-4 9. Spies 1-5 5-7 7. Meyer 2-6 0-0 7. Overton 1-2 3-6 5. Bohnsack 3-4 0-0 12.
Stopko 4-5 1-1 15. D. Wagner 3-5 4-4 10. Rourke 2-4 4-9 8. Miller 2-4 1-2 11. Neubauer 2-8 3-4 7. Dillon 2-2 0-0 10. McAreavy 0-4 3-4 3. Klingeman 1-3 0-0 5.
3-point goals: Vinton-Shellsburg 4-13 (Bohnsack 2-2, Dinderman 1-4, Meyer 1-5). CCA 7-15 (Stopko 2-2, Miller 2-4, Dillon 2-2, Klingeman 1-2).
Rebounds: Vinton-Shellsburg 25 (Spies 10, Sagan 8). CCA 27 (D. Wagner 9, Rourke 5).
Assists: Vinton-Shellsburg 6 (Spies 2). CCA 9 (Rourke 3).