CLINTON — The Clinton Maroons opened the New Year with a couple of home games on Tuesday, January 2, in one last non-conference outing before conference play starts on today.
The opponent for the evening’s games were the LeRoy Panthers, who have a strong program. The junior varsity (JV) teams squared off first with the Maroons, getting the tip and taking a short-lived lead on steals and fast breaks.
Converting Maroons fouls into points and 3-point baskets allowed the Panthers back into the game, leading by 2 at the end of the first quarter. The second stanza saw a tough battle with the teams trading the lead several times and the Panther lead cut to one point at the half.
After the break, the Maroons were more focused and their purpose was to win the game, going on a 13-7 run in the third quarter and adding a 17-8 run in the last quarter as their intensity broadened. Clinton took the win 56-42.
In the feature game between the varsity teams, the struggle wasn’t apparent until later in the game. The Maroons took the tip-off and built a 13-6 lead in the first quarter and extended it to 32-14 at the half.
“We got out to a good start in the first half. We played solid defense and made them take tough shots,” said coach Haurberg. “We did a really good job of keeping Perry (#44, Nick Perry, the Panthers star player) out of his rhythm with only 4 first half points.”
The battle began as the second half started, the Panthers clawing their way into outscoring the Maroons by two in the third quarter and by three in the final period of play.
The first half lead, however, was too insurmountable for the Panthers, even with Perry back on his game. Perry ended the game as high scorer with 19 points, 15 in the second half. Even at that, the Maroons won 63-50 with three players in double figures and seven players in all scoring.
Clinton was led by #24 Austin Baker with 16 points, followed by Seth Westfall with 13 and Chase Reynolds with 11, including three 3-point baskets.
“They (LeRoy) made a really strong run at us in the second half, as Perry got into a groove and we had a few too many turnovers. We were able to maintain our composure and hit our foul shots in the fourth (7 of 8) to come away with the win,” Haurberg said.
The Maroons are now 8-3 on the season and play next game on tonight, January 5, at Shelbyville to start conference play. the JV game is at 6 p.m. with the varsity following at 7:30 p.m.