The Clear Lake boys survived a pair of close games to end the regular conference season undefeated, but then had their perfect regular season disrupted by a last second shot.
The Lions (19-1) begin post-season play Monday, Feb. 24, at Charles City against LaPorte City, Union. Game time is 6:30 p.m. The winner will face either Charles City or Waverly-Shell
Rock on Thursday, Feb. 27, at Mason City.
CL 74, Algona 65 (OT)
Algona used its home team advantage and consistent scoring to force their Tuesday game with Clear Lake to overtime. After being tied 59-59 at the end of regulation, the Lions outscored the Bulldogs 15-6 to record a 74-65 victory.
“It was good for us to experience an overtime game,” said Head Coach Kevin Kahler. “We haven’t been in very many tight games this year, so hopefully this experience will help us later in the season. Algona is a very good team, and they played extremely well tonight, but our kids executed when they needed to.”
The Lions broke out to a 20-13 lead in the first quarter, but stumbled a bit in the second, allowing Algona to pull within two at halftime, 30-28. The second half was played as evenly, with Clear Lake clinging to a 46-43 lead heading into the final quarter.
Spencer Davidson had six three-pointers and ended the night with 26 points for the Lions. Matt Stephany also had a hot hand, draining six of seven three-point attempts to finish with 25 points.
Davis Dieken scored 11 points inside and pulled down 10 rebounds. Pete Swenson scored just two points, but contributed greatly on defense. He gobbled up 15 rebounds, 13 on defense, to give the Lions more scoring opportunities.
The remainder of Clear Lake’s scoring came from Brock Adams with five, Chase Lester with three, and Jack Abbas with two points. In addition to his 11 assists, Adams had three steals in the game.
CL 86, Humboldt 78
The road didn’t get any easier for the Lions Thursday, as they faced the conference’s second-place team, Humboldt. Both teams shot the ball well, but the Lions came away with an 86-78 win.
“It was one of those games where neither team could stop the other,” said Coach Kahler. “We just happened to execute a little better over the last four minutes.”
Senior Jack Abbas came in and gave his team a big lift off the bench with three three-pointers late in the game to spark his team. The Lions trailed most of the game, but outscored the host team 25-16 in the final period.
“Humboldt is a very talented team and a tough place to play, so this was a nice win for us. This also gives us an undefeated season in the conference which is tough to do,” added Kahler.
Spencer Davidson continued his torrid scoring run, putting in 27-points. The total included his 1,000th career point, which was marked with a special ball presentation in the final home game of the season Saturday.
Four other Lions also scored in double figures. Seniors Pete Swenson and Davis Dieken scored 16 and 15 points respectively, while junior Matt Stephany finished with 13 and senior Jack Abbas had 12. Chase Lester contributed three points.
Swenson, Dieken and Stephany were the leaders on the boards with six rebounds apiece. Swenson led the team with five assists and Dieken made two blocks.
Charles City 60, CL 59
The top ranked Clear Lake Lions were upended by Charles City in a non-conference basketball game played Saturday afternoon in Clear Lake. With the final seconds ticking off the clock, Charles City’s Tyler LaBarge launched a three-point attempt from NBA range and lifted the Comets to a one-point win, 60-59.
“Quite honestly, I just don’t think we were mentally ready to go. This was our third game in five days, and after the two road games earlier in the week, I think we just had a letdown,” said Coach Kahler. “Our defense wasn’t very good tonight, and we didn’t attack their zone like we needed to. Thirteen rebounds and zero free throw attempts are two stats that really stick out for me.”
The two teams played almost evenly in the first half, with Charles City holding 13-12 lead after one period and ahead 29-17 at the break. The Comets applied pressure in the third, outscoring the Lions, 18-13, but Clear Lake responded down the stretch to pull ahead. They seemingly had the victory in hand until LaBarge sunk his three-pointer with only seconds remaining. Matt Stephany threw up a shot from three-quarters of the court away as the buzzer sounded, but the attempt hit the backboard and fell away.
Stephany was the leading scorer for the Lions with 17 points. Spencer Davidson finished with 12 and Brock Adams had 10. Davis Dieken and Jack Abbas put in eight points apiece, while Pete Swenson had four.
“It’s disappointing, but we’re still 19-1 and in a good position,” added Kahler. “We need to learn from this and use it to make us better. “
The Lions were slated to travel to Mason City High Tuesday night to wrap up the regular season. They begin post-season play Monday, Feb. 24, at Charles City where they will face Union, LaPorte City. A win could set up a rematch with Charles City if the Comets can get past Waverly-Shell Rock in their opener. That game would be played Thursday, Feb. 27, at Mason City.