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Rough sailing for Clipper girls

CCA girls 62, Benton 52
(At left) CCA’s Natalia Turner looks for an open shot from under the arms of Benton Community’s Leah Van Weelden, in varsity action. Turner put up a career-high 25 points in the Clippers’ 62-52 loss.

TIFFIN– A career-high 25-point effort from Natalia Turner wasn’t enough to pull the Clear Creek Amana (CCA) Clippers ahead of Benton Community in a WaMaC varsity contest Tuesday, Dec. 8, in Tiffin. The Clippers fell, 62-52, their third consecutive loss.
Mount Vernon sank the Clippers, 63-55, on Friday, Dec. 4, and Iowa City Regina swamped them, 66-34, on Saturday, Dec. 5. With the losses, the Creek Girls dropped to 2-3 overall after season-opening wins over Anamosa and Dyersville Beckman Catholic.
The Benton Bobcats took an early lead before a pair of back-to-back 3-point baskets nudged the Clippers ahead, 8-7. However, Benton took the period, 14-16, and led at the half. The Clippers rallied back in the third quarter, only down by a basket, 41-39, going into the final period. A Be DeShaw 3-point shot made it 45-42 as the Clippers kept it to a one-bucket game. Unfortunately for CCA, the Bobcats clawed their way to a 10-point lead, one the Creek Girls couldn’t quite overcome.
“We kinda lost track of some of the (Benton) girls and they just beat us off the drive quite a bit,” CCA coach P.J. Sweeney said. “We just weren’t moving our feet very well and playing good, solid defense. That (fourth period) was the difference in the game. We just couldn’t get any stops.”
Having two players on the bench hampered the Clippers: Lauren Helle, who was recovering from an illness, and Alissa Schwarting, who turned an ankle in the Regina game.
Abbi Kinnaird, the team’s leading scorer, was held to only 2 points, down from her 9-points-per-game average.
“She struggled a little bit,” Sweeney said. “Usually she’s a tremendous shooter, for whatever reason… it just wasn’t her night.”
On the other hand, it was a stellar night for Turner with six 3-point goals included in her point total.
“She kept us in the game the first half,” Sweeney said. “She shot the ball extremely well and in the second half they were face-guarding her everywhere, they weren’t going to let her catch the ball and get any open looks.” Even with changing up the offense, Sweeney said, “It just didn’t work out, we couldn’t get her any open looks.”
Sweeney reiterated the lack of varsity experience for much of his 10-player team.
“Most of these kids last year, they didn’t play any varsity ball or they played very limited minutes, and had very limited roles… maybe they’d play a minute here or a minute there,” he said.
The coach, in his second year at the helm of the varsity program, added, “It all starts in practice. We’ve (got to) work harder in practice and get after it and bring up the intensity and energy a little bit. I’m constantly preaching to the girls, ‘You play like you practice,’ and sometimes I think we have some lapses where we relax and hopefully we can get back after it, and work hard and fix a few things.”
Sweeney gave credit to the Bobcats’ aggressive offense but also noted, “For whatever reason, we were just a step slow tonight.”
The Clippers head to South Tama on Friday, Dec. 18, and close out the month on Saturday, Dec. 19, with a girls/boys doubleheader at home against West Branch. The freshmen boys will tip-off at noon followed by the junior varsity girls, sophomore boys, varsity girls and varsity boys.
SCORING: N. Turner 25, E. Navara 13, C. Navara 6, Be DeShaw 3, M. Carew 3, A. Kinnaird 2.
3-POINT GOALS: Turner 6, C. Navara 2, DeShaw 1.