The Clear Lake Falcons overcame a slow start with a big run and never looked back in a 90-72 road win over the Clear Springs Chargers on Saturday.
“They settled into a rhythm and knocked down some shots,” Clear Springs head coach Chris Hairfield said. “We’ve got some fundamental things we need to do a better job of executing, and we’ll go back to work Monday and try to correct those things and fix them for Creek.”
The game, which closed out the first half of district play for both teams, was an important one in the 24-6A standings. With the win, Clear Lake (5-2 in district) remains in a firm position to earn one of 24-6A’s playoff berths. Clear Springs (5-2) drops a game back of district co-leaders Dickinson (6-1) and Clear Creek (6-1).
“Their backs were against the wall to stay in this race, and they came out like they wanted it more than we did, and so we got beat,” Hairfield said.
The Chargers raced out to a 9-2 lead, which prompted an early timeout from Falcons head coach Tommy Penders during the run. After a pep talk that reverberated off the gym walls, Clear Lake senior guard Ajare Sanni (24 points) drained a 3-pointer, but Clear Springs continued to hold its lead, with a steal and fast-break layup by senior guard Christian Waller (17 points) giving the Chargers a 14-5 advantage at the midway point of the first period.
But, that’s when the Falcons began a 13-1 run to take the lead, and from there, they never looked back. A 3-pointer by Sanni gave Clear Lake a 20-17 lead at the end of the first quarter.
“I told them we have to play tough,” Penders said. “When you play in a great district and you have great facilities and great schools, you tend to be a little laid back sometimes. ... They responded well.”
A bucket from Clear Springs junior forward Terrence Woodson cut the Clear Lake lead to 22-19 early in the second quarter, but the Falcons scored seven unanswered points for a double-digit advantage. Later in the quarter, another Sanni 3-pointer capped an 11-0 run to give Clear Lake a 42-23 advantage. The Falcons led, 46-32, at halftime.
A basket off an offensive rebound by sophomore guard Marcus Williams (23 points) to start the second half was followed by a Clear Lake turnover that senior guard Faite Williams (13 points) cashed in for a 3-pointer and suddenly Clear Springs was within single digits.
Clear Lake senior swingman Riley Abercrombie (27 points, nine rebounds), who finished with five 3-pointers, nailed a shot from beyond the arc to put the Falcons back up, 49-37, and then answered a Faite Williams 3-ball with one of his own, which began a 12-3 run that put Clear Lake back in control of the game.
“Defensively, we were pretty solid,” Penders said. “We made it a little more difficult for them to get in the lane, and that’s very hard to do against a team like that. So, we did a very good job. Then, we got a lead, and we’re a very hard team to come from behind on because of our guard play.”
The Falcons entered the fourth quarter ahead, 65-49, but did not relent. An alley-oop dunk from Sanni to Abercrombie pushed the lead to 85-63 at the 2:05 mark of the final frame and got the Clear Lake fans on their feet. A converted and-one by senior guard Zaid Harris (21 points, 10 rebounds) 32 seconds later gave the Falcons their largest lead of the game at 88-65.
The Chargers face Clear Creek at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Carlisle Field House.