Inexperienced Lake persevering to stay in 24-6A playoff hunt
With what has unfolded to date in the Clear Lake girls’ basketball season, Kirby Killingsworth wouldn’t be surprised by anything else that materializes in the remainder of the 2018-19 campaign.
There have been a rash of unlikely events affecting the Lady Falcons, but through it all Clear Lake has somehow managed to fashion a 15-5 record.
The Lady Falcons recently picked up their most important win of the season with a 37-36 victory over Clear Creek, a victory that sent Lake into the holiday season on a much-needed positive note.
Killingworth, the Lady Falcons’ head coach, was greeted this fall with just one returning starter, senior post Tara Kessner, but Lake has managed to persevere and develop into a cohesive unit.
“Between junior varsity and varsity, I’ve got four players in boots,” Killingsworth said. “And we had another player (junior Libby Saunders) who had an emergency appendectomy.
“We’re just kind of finding our way around. Somehow, we’re getting it done.”
When Lake defeated Clear Creek, the Lady Wildcats may have been the hottest team in District 24-6A.
“It was one of those close games where neither team could pull away from the other,” Killingsworth said. “We had a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter, and then we gave up two long corner threes.
“But the thing that saved us the whole game was that our defense got us through it. I think we gave up just two unearned baskets the whole game.”
Clear Lake has won 10 of its last 12 games, which while revealing consistency, also speaks to the team’s improvement. After an early-season 24-point loss to Manvel, the Lady Falcons met up with the Lady Mavericks again and dropped a close overtime encounter.
“This team has a totally different look from last year,” Killingsworth said. “I only had one kid (Kessner) with any varsity minutes.
“I play about seven or eight kids, and everybody has to get the job done.”
In a district game against Dickinson, the individual coming through for Clear Lake in a 38-29 win over the Lady Gators was junior Deanna Wu.
“She scored 10 points and hit two big threes before the half,” Killingsworth said. “Then she played in an orchestra concert (at halftime) and came back and hit three big free throws in the fourth quarter.”
Clear Lake has also registered significant wins over George Ranch (12-6) and Galveston Ball, which is unbeaten in District 22-5A. The Lady Falcons are tied with Clear Springs for third place in District 24-6A, trailing Clear Falls (4-0) and Clear Creek (3-1).
“We have a chance to win every night, I think, but looking at the scores, you also have a chance to lose,” Killingsworth said. “That’s the way it seems to me. Falls is playing really great now, and it seems like Clear Springs has got it going. They’ve scored like 70 or 80 points their last two games. They have different parts this year, but to me they’re the team you have to beat every year.
“I haven’t seen Brook and Dickinson, but I know Creek is good. I’ll never count Alvin out of any game. They can play with anybody in our district.”
Lake’s success this year has needed to revolve around a strong work ethic. Killingsworth has instilled the hard-nosed defensive approach which has frustrated opposing offenses.
“With Tara Kessner in the middle…she had 10 blocks one game,” the Lake head coach said. “She’s a force to be reckoned with inside. We just let her do her thing there, and then we try to play strong defense.
“If we can hold teams in the 30’s, we feel like we’ve got a chance to win. We’re not that powerful on offense so we need to hold teams down. It’s no secret we’ll try to get the ball to Tara, and if they collapse on her, then we need someone else to step up.
“We’ve had to pull up a couple of JV kids, and we’re playing with six sophomores. It’s been a different year.”
While the remaining Clear Creek Independent School District teams are playing in tournaments this weekend, Killingsworth opted to abstain.
“We chose not to do a third tournament because our numbers were down,” she said. “With our situation the way it is now, it’s really what we need.”