Clear Lake boys capture NCC title

(Above) Clear Lake’s P.J. Feuerbach puts some defensive pressure on an Algona player when the Lions hosted the Bulldogs.  -Reporter photo by Chris Barragy

by Marianne Gasaway

It was a wild week for the Clear Lake boys, making up missed games and finishing out the regular season schedule.  Now, the Lions (12-2, 19-2) are able to take a weeklong break from action and can savor the taste of a North Central Conference title.

“Four games in one week -- glad that is over. And now we are on to postseason play,” said Coach Jeremey Ainley.  “Normally, I wouldn’t want a week off, but in this instance we have some bodies that need recovery, some minds that need refreshing and just need to clean some things up in hopes of making a deep postseason run.”

CL 70, Algona 59

The Lions played the first of two games against Algona during the week on Monday, Feb. 8.  After a close first half, the Lions put some distance between themselves and the host Bulldogs for a 70-59 victory.

“We knew it would be a tough road game against an opponent that always plays tough against us,” said Ainley. 

The Lions started out strong and got some inside looks which allowed them to build a two-point lead after one quarter.  At halftime the margin was one, 31-30, despite some foul trouble and adversity on the road.  

“At half, we regrouped and made a couple adjustments and had a strong third quarter to build the lead to 12 going into the fourth,” said the coach. “In the fourth we got to the rim and made our free throws to preserve a hard fought road win.”

  Carson Toebe led the team with 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists.  Travaughn Luyobya had one of his best games with 13 points and seven assists.  

“Andrew (Formanek) battled through some fouls to finish with 13 points and eight rebounds and Jagger Schmitt gave us a huge spark with two big threes in the third quarter and finished with 11 points overall.  Joe Faber gave us a spark off the bench with nine points, as well, with three three-pointers,” said Ainley.  “Overall it was a great team win. Everybody that played gave us some great minutes and helped to a great road win.”

CL 50, Webster City 41

Another night, another road game.  The Lions were in Webster City Tuesday and a 50-41 win gave them the North Central Conference title.

The Lions came out with a lot of energy and got out to an early 17-9 lead, hitting three three-pointers to start the game.  

“We built the lead to 29-18 at half and it seemed like we might roll a little,” said Coach Ainley.  “Unfortunately, playing a back-to-back road game on a college floor, we got a little tired and just kind of finished the game a little sluggish.” 

Andrew Formanek paced the Lions with 16 points and 11 rebounds.  Carson Toebe and Jagger Schmitt were also in double figures with 15 points apiece.  Eric Ritter and Joe Faber each had two points.

“The win helped us to secure the outright conference title for the fourth year in a row -- something never done in Clear Lake history -- and has only been done once in conference history (Webster City 1929-1933),” explained Coach Ainley.  It was also Clear Lake’s sixth conference title in eight years.  “When I started helping a little with Clear Lake basketball, the goal at that time was to just finish in the top half of the league.  I am happy with what we have turned this program into and now guys coming into our program now have expectations to win it every year.  We have had some great players in the last four years, but the culture we have built is the most important -- one that strives to outwork our opponent and do it playing the right way.”

Algona 63, CL 59

Playing the same opponent in the same week presented some challenges Friday night.  After winning by 11 points on the road, the Lions hosted Algona at home.  Algona avenged the earlier loss by a score of 63-59.

“Unfortunately, in three quarters we simply were not ready to go.  They outplayed us and looked more hungry for the win,” explained Coach Ainley.

The Bulldogs ran out to an 11 point lead at half and built it to 18 points before the Lions finally turned it up late in the game.

Pressure defense helped to cut the lead to three points in the fourth quarter and the Lions missed a shot that could have trimmed it to one-point with under a minute to play.  

Unfortunately, it was too little, too late.  

“This game should serve as a great learning moment for us,” said Ainley.  “What worked once isn’t guaranteed the next time and the same energy and focus has to be brought every night.”

The loss ended a 49 game win streak at home for the Lions.

Andrew Formanek led Clear Lake with  25 points and 11 rebounds. Eric Ritter had a great scoring game with 20 and Carson Toebe finished with 12 points and eight assists.  Joe Faber’s two points rounded out the scoring.

CL 58, GHV 49

The regular season finale for the Lions took place on the road in an always contentious battle against Garner-Hayfield-Ventura.

“A quick turnaround to a road game less than 16 hours after our first loss in 15 games— I was interested to see how we would respond,” said Coach Ainley.  

The Lions got out to a quick start with an 11-0 run 

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