Shooting heats up to help CL boys past Union, LaPorte City
The Clear Lake boys took the first step toward their goal of reaching the State Tournament with a 71-49 victory over La Porte City, Union Monday night in Charles City. The win sets up a meeting with Waverly-Shell Rock Thursday night in the 3A District semi final. That game is slated to tip off at 7 p.m. in Mason City. The Go-Hawks have had the Lions’ number in the post-season, defeating them in the District final or Sub-State each of the last three years. Monday the Go-Hawks handled Charles City, 54-33.
Coach Kevin Kahler was savoring Monday’s first round win, but has W-SR clearly in his sights.
“It was a good first round win for us. Now we need to go back to work and get ready for Waverly on Thursday,” said Kahler. “It’s going to come down to our offense against their defense. Defensively, they will probably be the best team that we’ve seen, but we have a lot of weapons to defend. We’ll need to get off to a good start and have good possessions. Defensivley, we’ll need to contain them in transition, and identify (Jake) Velky.” Velky, a 6’1” junior, is the leading scorer for W-SR, averaging 18.8 points per game. “We thought it would come down to the two of us again; we started scouting them about three weeks ago, so we have a pretty good idea of what to expect. They’re beatable, but we’re going to have to play well on both ends of the floor.”
Against Union, La Porte City, the Lions got off to a slow start, but shot 74 percent through the second and third quarters to open up as much as a 20-point lead.
“After a slow start in the first quarter, I thought we did a better job of attacking their zone in the second and third quarters,” said Kahler, whose team trailed 14-10 after one quarter of play. “Once we got settled in, I thought we did a better job of going inside to Davis (Dieken), which opened things up on the perimeter. Offensively, I thought we had good ball movement and our shot selection improved throughout the course of the game. Defensively, we tried to change things up on them which seemed to keep them from getting into a rhythm.”
The effectiveness of the inside-outside game was reflected in the scoring stats. Guard Spencer Davidson paced the team with 20-points, fueled by three three-pointers and 7/12 shooting from inside the arc. He sunk all three of his free-throw attempts. Dieken, playing in the post, was 8/10 from close range and 2/2 from behind the three-point line. He also led the team with seven rebounds.
The Lions took the lead with about 4:30 remaining in the first half when Matt Stephany drove the lane to put the team ahead, 23-22. The Knights responded with a three-pointer, but the Lions refused to be kept down. Dieken scored back-to-back buckets to keep the Lions up, 27-25. And Pete Swenson sparked the team a fieldgoal and the first of his four steals. Davidson put in a pair of three-pointers to give the Lions a 33-28 halftime lead.
Swenson finished the game with eight points.
Jack Abbas also provided a lift for the team, coming off the bench to score eight.
The Lions steadily built upon their lead in the second half and a five three-pointers in the third quarter put Clear Lake ahead, 58-38 after three quarters.
Junior Devin Uhlenhopp was among the players who entered the game in the fourth quarter and kept the offense moving. He scored five points. Chase Lester finished with four points, while JJ Theobald and Matt Stephany each had two.