Carson Nitz and her Beloit Turner basketball teammates knew exactly what was on the line this week.
As the Rock Valley Conference reached the one-third mark of its season, the Trojans’ schedule included rival Clinton and undefeated Jefferson. Turner had a chance to solidify itself as a contender in what appears to be a very competitive league.
Turner checked the first game off its list at home Tuesday night.
Freshman Olivia Tinder scored a career-high 18 points, Nitz added 16 for a team that had five players score at least nine, and Turner fended off Clinton 66-51.
Clinton fell to 3-3 in league play. Turner is 4-2 and tied with McFarland and Big Foot for third place, with Jefferson and one-loss Whitewater leading the fray.
“We needed to get momentum going,” Nitz said. “Our defense shut them down, definitely.
“They’re our rivals. We weren’t going to let them beat us on our home floor.”
Clinton got off to a hot start, jumping out to an 8-3 lead.
Turner took over from there. Mara Fowler’s first of three 3-pointers came with about 11 minutes remaining in the first half. It gave the Trojans the lead for good, as they went on a 14-0 run.
“We got off to a little bit of a slow start defensively, got hurt down low with their size. We knew that was going to be their strength against us,” Turner coach Nick Faralli said. “But our kids answered back. They did a great job getting on the front side of the post and really made entry passes difficult.
“That really changed the complexion of the game. When our defensive energy amped up, all of the sudden our shots started falling.”
Six different Turner players scored during that 14-0 run.
And at the defensive end, the Trojans bottled the Cougars up and forced turnovers on eight straight possessions.
“We just couldn’t put a whole game together tonight,” first-year Clinton coach Kim Ciochon said. “We started out really well and kind of let that fizzle.
“In the second half, we had a nice little bout of it. I told the girls I’ve seen bits and pieces, and now we’ve just got to put a whole game together.”
Clinton—which had four players in double figures, including Hannah Welte with 14 points—cut its deficit to five points less than four minutes into the second half. It was also within six, down 51-45, after Addyson Ciochon (12 points) made a layup with just over six minutes to play.
But Tinder drove in for a layup to push the Trojans’ lead back to eight points, and a jumper from the elbow from Elise Metzger (11 points) had Turner quickly back up by double digits.
“Olivia is awesome. Her confidence is definitely increasing. Last Thursday, she had a difficult game and wasn’t finishing her free throws. We just told her the next one’s going in, and she carried herself tonight,” Nitz said. “We know we’re super deep. If you’re not going to make it, the next person will.”
Turner now gets its shot at unbeaten Jefferson, which has won five of its six games by at least 13 points.
TURNER 66, CLINTON 51
Clinton (51)—Kalk 3-2-10, Welte 4-3-14, Ciochon 6-0-12, Severson 3-3-11, Kemp 2-0-4. Totals: 18-8-51.
Turner (66)—Fowler 3-0-9, Nitz 7-1-16, Fobes 4-1-9, Metzger 5-0-11, Tinder 8-0-18, Young 1-1-3. Totals: 28-3-66.
Clinton 16 35—51
Beloit Turner 28 38—66
Three-point goals—Clinton 7 (Welte 3, Severson 2, Kalk 2), Turner 7 (Fowler 3, Tinder 2, Nitz, Metzger). Free throws missed—Clinton 9, Turner 9. Total fouls—Clinton 15, Turner 16. Fouled out—Welte.