The Clear Lake girls started strong, but Unity Christian (21-4) outscored the Lions 35-18 in the second half to oust the Lions in the Class 3A quarterfinal at the State Basketball Tournament Tuesday afternoon. The Lions fell, 60-35.
The Lions, making their first trip to State since 2002, showed no signs of early jitters, as Logan Anderson swooshed a three-pointer within the first minute of play. A Lindsey Loudenburg basket on the next possession had Clear Lake up, 5-0, early.
The two teams settled in to a back and forth contest for the remainder of the first quarter, with the Knights getting a basket in the final minute to go ahead 15-12 after one quarter of play.
Momentum began to shift to the Knights in the second period, as they opened with a basket, then took advantage of a Lion turnover and scored a three-pointer for a 20-12 advantage. Clear Lake got the difference back to four, but the Knights were again able to end the quarter with a basket and took a 25-17 lead into halftime.
It appeared Head Coach Bart Smith might have lit a fire under his team during the break. They came out of the locker room inspired. Trudy Peterson quickly drained a jumper, then got the ball back for another basket and a foul shot. Her three-point play put the Lions back to within three, trailing 25-22.
Defensive pressure by the Lions forced a Knight turnover and a basket by Loudenburg had the Lions within one, 25-24, two-minutes into the third period.
Midway through the third the Lions’ touch went cold. They missed their next five shots then turned the ball over, helping the Knights to a 37-25 advantage with two-minutes remaining in the third. A jump shot by Madison Faber was the only other score for the Lions in the final minutes of the quarter.
The Lions remained scrappy throughout, but Unity Christian refused to yield to pressure and extended their lead throughout the final quarter, outscoring the Lions 19-8.
The Lions shot 29.5 percent from the field (13/44), compared to 56 percent (22-59) for Unity Christian.
Trudy Peterson was the leading scorer for the Lions. The senior finished with 11 points, shooting 3/10 from the field and 4/7 at the free throw line. Senior Logan Anderson had nine points, including one three-pointer.
The usually strong shooting team made just three of 20 three-point attempts.
The Knights also had the advantage at the free throw line, making 12 of 18 attempts, most in the final quarter. Clear Lake was 6/12 at the line in the game.
Katie Hewett scored five points, while Loudenburg and Madison Faber each finished with four points. Kaye Faber added two points.
Bailey Kibsgaard was the leader on the boards for the Lions with four rebounds.
Kassidy DeJong was the leading scorer for the Knights with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
Unity Christian, which entered the State Tournament ranked number six in Class 3A, will face Crestwood (22-2) in the semifinal on Thursday.
The Lions graduate four members of its outstanding 2013-14 team. Logan Anderson, Madison Faber, Trudy Peterson and Bailey Kibsgaard finished their high school basketball careers at State.