Girls basketball: Whitewater pounds Clinton

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Tim Wester, Special to The Gazette
Friday, January 10, 2014

CLINTON—Clinton High girls’ basketball coach Michael Powers did the best he could to stay calm on the sidelines while his team committed turnover after turnover against the frustrating Whitewater zone.

Unfortunately for Powers, his hard work didn’t pay off.

The Whippets forced 25 Cougar turnovers, including 15 in the first half, to cruise past Clinton 44-28 in a Rock Valley Conference girls basketball crossover game here Friday night.

Freshman forward Myriama Smith-Traore poured in a game-high 16 points to help the Whippets improve to 4-1 in the Rock Valley North, one game behind first-place McFarland.

Smith’s performance was just what Whitewater needed with leading scorer Brooke Trewyn still hampered with an ankle injury.

“Brooke (Trewyn) is still battling a twisted ankle a little bit and that slowed her a bit, and we’ll be happy when she is 100 percent again,” Whitewater head coach Judy Harms said. “But in the meantime, we have to keep working on our defense because that’s where we need to make more strides.”

It sure looked like the Whippets made some pretty good defensive strides against the Cougars.

Whitewater opened the game with a full-court press that immediately paid dividends with five Clinton turnovers in the first two minutes of the game. Smith-Traore took advantage with back-to-back layups that helped ignite her team’s 11-0 run to start the game.

“We got caught trying to pass the ball over the top over Myriama’s tall 6-foot-2 frame, which was a key mistake,” Powers said. “Most games throwing over the top of a defense is open, but not against them, and we didn’t make the adjustment soon enough.”

The Cougars’ first adjustment was to turn to its outside shooting.

Back-to-back 3-pointers from Mallory Niemann and Megan Lantz trimmed the Whitewater lead to 20-13 midway through the second quarter.

Niemann paced the Cougars with 10 points.

But the Whippets stormed back with a 9-1 run to close out the half with a commanding 29-14 lead.

“They (the Whippets) do a great job in their zone and on offense and are methodical,” Powers said. “They get you to take longer shots, which lead to longer rebounds and chances for fast-break points.”

Whitewater wasn’t able to convert as many easy baskets in the second half, managing just 15 points the rest of the way.

Clinton, however, was unable to take advantage of the Whippets’ struggles and never drew closer than 14 in the second half.

“For some reason, we just missed a lot of easy shots tonight,” Harms said. “We just got to put it behind us and get everybody healthy for the rest of the season.”

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