Patriot girls upset HLHF
The Clarkson/Leigh girls went on the road and earned a huge victory to open the season in a 44-35 final on Nov. 30 at Class D-1 No. 3 Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family.
The Patriots and Bulldogs were tied at 8-8 after the first quarter. Clarkson/Leigh outscored HLHF by three points in each of the following three quarters for the win.
Ashlynn Novotny scored 14 and Kaegan Held 12 to lead Clarkson/Leigh offensively. Novotny also had six rebounds to go with six assists and two steals.
The Patriots shot just 38 percent but held the Bulldogs to 29 percent, swiped away 14 steals and earned 19 trips to the line to just eight for the hosts.
“The kids really wanted to play this game. They understand it’s kind of a rivalry, and they went out there and laid it on the floor,” coach Matt Murren said. “It was a game where we were all over it. We were on the boards. We were on the floor for 50/50 balls. You could tell how much it meant to the kids on the court and on the bench. It was a game where the kids took it upon themselves and went and got the game.”
Clarkson/Leigh led early 6-2 before a 6-2 run to end the first quarter evened it up. Once the Patriots went ahead in the second quarter, they maintained control mostly throughout.
When the lead was trimmed to 29-28 in the third quarter, Held grabbed a steal and went the other way drawing a foul on a make then sinking a free throw for a four-point lead.
Up 36-35, Novotny sank a three to extend the advantage back out once again with time winding down in the fourth quarter.
Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family was forced to foul at that point and hope for Clarkson/Leigh misses at the line. The Patriots had other ideas and put the win away.
Despite the Bulldogs enjoying a significant size advantage, the Patriots neutralized that disparity with hard work and intensity. Clarkson/Leigh won the battle on the glass 31-29.
“The kids played with heart. We don’t necessarily have the tallest girls, but our posts, they battle,” Murren said. “Our posts played tremendously offensively and defensively. That’s one of those things, it just comes down to heart.
“Size is nice, but our kids played with heart. They were all over the boards, all over the floor and they were there with their heart.”
The most significant matchup was with HLHF 6-2 senior Taya Beller who averaged 12.5 points and over 11 rebounds per game last season.
Clarkson/Leigh held her to just two points, three shots and six rebounds.
“We didn’t necessarily have any gameplan against Beller. We just had to be cognizant of where she was. The main thing is to always get a body on here. When the shot goes up, anybody with height, you’ve got to get a body on,” Murren said.
“One thing we preached all week was they like to shoot from the perimeter. Once that ball comes off the rim, you’ve got to go locate it and go get it. You can’t let it come to you because they will get offensive rebounds.”
Though Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family collected 10 offensive boards, Clarkson/Leigh was slightly better with 13.
“The kids were excited (after the win). It meant quite a bit to them. Every game means a lot to them, but those close games, those rivalry games they mean a lot to the kids,” Murren said. “You could tell in the locker room, it was a lot of fun. The kids enjoyed it afterwards. There were a lot of smiles on the bench, the excitement on the bench, the excitement on the court...it meant a lot to them. It’s well-deserved.
“It’s one of those things it’s only one game, but it’s a great game to kick start the season for us.”
Clarkson/Leigh went 14-10 a year ago and lost the opener to HLHF 40-28. The Patriots returned eight of the nine players who were a part of that contest.
“It was nice to see that we were able to score points in different situations that we have been preaching and coaching,” Murren said. “As far as what we have as a team, we know what we have as a team.
“We’re a team that’s going to go out there every night and play as hard as we possibly can. It’s going to come down to, can we hit shots? That’s what we have to have. The kids know that, and they’ll continue to work to do that.”
Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family 61, Clarkson/Leigh Boys 34: The Clarkson/Leigh boys sputtered out of the gate in a loss Nov. 30 in Humphrey and never recovered in a 61-34 loss.
The Patriots scored just four points in the first quarter then managed only six in the second while falling behind 27-4 after the first eight minutes then 37-10 at halftime.
The offense produced a few more buckets and 12 points apiece in the third and fourth but it was far too little, too late.
Daniel Beller and Tommy McEvoy led Clarkson/Leigh with eight points apiece. The Patriots hit on just 26 percent shooting, went 0 for 13 from 3-point range and 6 for 19 from the free throw line.
They also grabbed 16 offensive rebounds but failed to convert more than a few for second-chance points.
Nate Tenopir is the sports editor for the Schuyler Sun. Reach him via email at SCHsports@lee.net