Jeff Yoder Photo / iagameday.smugmug.com
Your Prep Sports
NORTH LIBERTY – When a team is in the middle of a winning streak everything seems to go right.
Clear Creek Amana had plenty go wrong in its first ever meeting with its new Johnson County neighbor Liberty High and still managed to keep its winning streak intact.
A sluggish start, foul trouble, frigid shooting and a furious fourth-quarter Liberty High rally weren’t enough to stop red-hot Clear Creek Amana.
Karsyn Stratton had 31 points and 14 rebounds and Jordan Neely and Whitney Traetow hit clutch free throws in the final minute as Clear Creek Amana pushed its win streak to five with a 64-58 victory over Liberty High in a non-conference contest on Saturday in North Liberty.
“It was a gritty battle the whole way,” Stratton said. “It wasn’t that pretty, it got close at the end but I had confidence in our team and we found a way to get a win.”
Clear Creek Amana (6-4) started 1-of-10 from the field, shot 37 percent for the game, had two starters sit considerable minutes with foul trouble and allowed 28 points in the fourth quarter.
The Clippers still walked away with their sixth win in seven games and second in less than 24 hours following a 50-38 win over Central DeWitt on Friday.
“We started slow, and we struggled at times, going back-to-back is never easy especially when you have a young team like we have but in the end we found some ways to make some plays,” Clear Creek Amana coach PJ Sweeney said. “We made some free throws when we needed them and that was kind of the difference in the game.”
It’s not as if the Clear Creek Amana didn’t do anything right on Saturday.
The Clippers held a 41-31 rebounding edge thanks to 17 offensive rebounds, made 18 free throws and forced 20 turnovers.
Still, this one wasn’t pretty and that’s part of what made it special for Sweeney.
“It was a gutsy, gritty win playing back-to-back nights,” Sweeney said. “We are one a little bit of a roll and hopefully we can keep that momentum going. Confidence is a big thing with a young team if we can have that confidence the sky is the limit so I couldn’t be prouder of the direction this team is going.”
Clear Creek Amana missed its first eight field goal attempts and trailed 4-0 more than three minutes into the game.
The offensive spark for Clear Creek Amana came from an unlikely source.
Senior Andrea Roller scored eight of her career-high nine points in the first half while making her first two 3-point attempts of the season.
Roller started the CCA scoring with her first career 3-pointer and had half of the Clippers’ 10 first-quarter points.
“Usually I don’t really shoot too much and I got the go ahead from PJ and took what they gave me,” Roller said. “The first one was exciting. That really just boosted my confidence right there.”
Roller hit another 3-pointer during a 7-0 Clipper run midway through the second quarter that turned a 14-13 lead into a 21-13 advantage. Roller nearly matched her season scoring output of 11 points with nine on Saturday.
“Andrea Roller in that first half she was awesome,” Sweeney said. “They were sagging off of her and trying to make her make a play and she hit a couple of shots. She is always going to be a force defensively and rebounding but she made some plays of offense tonight and I couldn’t be more proud of her.”
Clear Creek Amana never gave that lead up but needed some big plays late to hang on.
Liberty High (5-7) trailed 42-30 after three quarters but mounted a furious fourth-quarter rally behind sophomore Cora Saunders.
Saunders scored 17 of her team-high 23 points in the fourth quarter and pulled the Lightning as close as 58-56 with a pair of free throws with 45 seconds left.
“I’m really proud of the way we battled,” Liberty High coach Jamie Brandt said. “I think we were down by 12 at one point and our kids battled and kept believing and we had a couple of good looks there at the end when we were right in the game so I am definitely proud of our effort.”
Neely and Traetow each hit a pair of free throws in the final 38 seconds and Stratton sealed the win with her own pair of free throws with 13.6 seconds left.
“We had a lot of players make important free throws, having confidence in your teammates is what it is all about for us,” Roller said. “I have confidence in everyone on our team.”
Sam McPherson added 16 points for Liberty to go 23 from Saunders.
Saunders scored 17 of the final 22 points for Liberty over the final 5:44.
“She works her tail off day in and day out and she can obviously shoot the ball,” Brandt said of Saunders. “She likes taking those pressure shots and she’s been good at that.”
Clear Creek Amana 10 16 16 22 – 64
Liberty High 5 15 10 28 – 58
Clear Creek Amana (64) – Olivia Fairholm 0-1 0-1 0, Jordan Neely 1-8 3-3 5, Allison Rummelhart 1-3 0-0 2, Whitney Traetow 1-2 2-2 4, Karsyn Stratton 10-22 11-13 31, Megan Harvey 3-12 0-0 6, Andrea Roller 3-5 1-6 9, Ainsley Schrock 3-6 1-2 7, Team 22-59 18-27 64.
Liberty High (58) – Isabel Smith 3-4 0-1 6, Sam McPherson 6-16 0-0 16, Megan Davis 0-1 1-2 1, Emily Larsen 1-3 1-2 3, Jenna Saunders 0-3 0-3 0, Brylee Klosterman 1-2 4-6 6, Cora Saunders 7-14 6-6 23, Kayli Baldwin 1-3 0-0 3, Team 19-46 12-20 58.
3-point field goals – CCA 2-10 (Fairholm 0-1, Neely 0-5, Rummelhart 0-1, Stratton 0-1, Roller 2-2); ICL 8-18 (McPherson 4-8, C. Saunders 3-8, Baldwin 1-2). Rebounds – CCA 41 (Stratton 14); ICL 31 (Smith 8). Turnovers – CCA 14; ICL 20. Total fouls – CCA 22; ICL 23. Fouled out – CCA (Harvey); ICL (Davis). Technical fouls – None.