North Clay takes care of road business
Cardinals nail down 57-40 NTC win at Dieteric; Improve to 19-7

– Coming off of a tough loss on the road at Neoga on Tuesday, head coach Josh Zink was hoping his North Clay Cardinals would respond with a “big effort” on the road Friday night.

This mentor got exactly that.

The Cardinals picked up another big win in what has turned out to be a very special season so far for everyone involved.

North Clay used a 7-0 run to get the lead at the end of the first quarter and they never looked back in a 57-40 victory over Dieterich that improved their record to 19-7 on the season.

This win, for the Cardinals, was a huge victory for not only the conference standings but as an all important resume builder for next week's sub-sectional seeding process.

Senior Kaden Turner and junior Luke Fleener led the Cards' charge with 14 and 11-points in the win that improved North Clay to 4-2 in the league.

“We were pounding (emphasizing) it to the kids how big of a game this was. This catapulted us into tomorrow night (Altamont). I feel we can get a pretty decent seeding (sub-sectional) and if we can win tomorrow night we could get a real good seeding,” said Coach Zink.

After taking home third place in the NTC tournament last Saturday with a win over Dieterich, the Cardinals faced a team on Friday that was looking to turn the tables.

That didn't happen.

Coach Josh Krumwiede saw his team stumble early with a rash of turnovers and missed shots as the Movin' Maroons fell behind early and never got closer than ten points to the visitors in the second half.

Dieterich saw its record fall to 14-12 overall and 3-4 in the NTC with the defeat in front of a large crowd at home.

The home club got 12-points apiece from junior Collin Hartke and sophomore Derek Kuhl.

The Maroons got all of the opportunities that they needed to pick up the win but they could make enough shots to stay within range of the Cardinals.

Dieterich finished just 12-of-46 from the floor (26 percent) as they missed many “point-blank” shots in the lane.

Normally when you hold a big advantage rebounding you can somehow muster up enough points to pick up a win.

However Dieterich's offensive glass domination only resulted in more missed field goal attempts.

North Clay, in sharp contrast, nailed exactly 50 percent of their attempts (20-of-40) in the victory.

Coach Krumwiede's club did themselves no favors in handling the ball on Friday night.

The squad squandered other chances with 16-turnovers, including five in the first quarter that helped North Clay take control.

“Other than the turnovers, we got some good shots. Their (North Clay) length bothered us and I assume that they got some hands in our face, but I don't know how many shots we missed from five feet or less,” said Coach Krumwiede. “It just really killed us. We got offensive rebounds but our inability to put them back (score) in there hurt. It's hard to win when you can't score. Our defense could have been as good as we can play and if we give up 41-points we would have still lost.”

The Cardinals trailed 4-2 in the early stages of the game before their 1-3-1 zone trap started to pay dividends.

Two seniors; Aleon Rinehart and Nick Miller, scored nine-points each in the contest.

They both delivered points in the opening quarter.

Miller scored off of a Dieterich turnover as he converted on a fast break lay in to tie the game at four.

He added two more buckets off of a lob pass from teammate junior Tyson Jones and then he drove the lane for a nice left handed lay up for a 10-8 advantage with 2:49 left.

Then Rinehart scored twice in succession getting a baseline drive to fall and drilling home a 3-pointer from the right corner as the Cardinals led 15-9 at the end of the opening period.

Turner took his turn scoring for the Cardinals as they proved to be difficult to defend on this night.

He converted a three-point play with 6:03 left for a 19-11 lead.

Dieterich switched to a zone defense briefly in the second quarter and it didn't help matters as Fleener nailed a 3-pointer from the right wing on the first possession against the defense.

Consecutive scores by Turner and Rinehart gave North Clay it's first double-digit advantage and sophomore Ethan Bible closed the book on the first half with a pair of free throws for a 28-16 intermission lead.

The good news for the Maroons at halftime was that they hit the glass with 10-offensive rebounds.

The bad news, however, was that they were just 5-of-21 from the floor with nine turnovers as they trailed by 12 at the break.

The one bad part of the first half and into the third quarter for Coach Zink was that he had some players in foul trouble as both Rinehart and Miller picked up their third personal fouls and spent time on the bench.

However the Cardinals managed to work the game clock into their favor as they were a bit more deliberate on offense.

This helped extend the lead as they got three easy scores off of their spread offense and yet another transition basket off yet another Maroons' turnover.

When Turner scored on a back door cut off of a pass from Miller, North Clay led 38-23 with 2:34 remaining in the quarter.

“We got in foul trouble really quick in the third quarter so we wanted to maintain where we were (the lead) and we pulled it out and played a little 'cat and mouse' just a little bit to run some clock,” said Coach Zink.

Dieterich got four-straight points from Hartke to begin the fourth quarter to give his time a slight glimmer of hope.

A 3-pointer from the left wing and then 1-of-2 free throws cut the deficit to just 40-30 with 6:56 left.

But that was the last real move by the Maroons.

“They came out in the 1-3-1, they did that to us Saturday (NTC Tournament) and we knew with Miller on the top and their pressuring that the were going to be in the passing lanes all night long,” said Coach Krumwiede. “Against good teams who get in the passing lanes they are going to steal it and take it to the other end. Their pressure hurt us and we tried many different things (defensively). We pressed, we zoned, we went man-to-man and none of those things worked.”

North Clay came right back with a pair of buckets with Turner scoring on a nice drive to the basket and yet another steal and fast break conversion, this time by junior Tyson Jones, got things going back the way that Coach Zink needed.

The Cardinals took care of the ball and the ballgame by parading to the foul line in the final minutes.

North Clay nailed down 15-of-19 free throws overall and 7-of-10 to close out the important road conference triumph.

The Cardinals finished the game with 12-turnovers with five of those coming in the fourth quarter.

However 5-of-10 field goal shooting to go along with the foul shot accuracy secured the victory.

Dieterich's overwhelming 31-18 rebounding edge was offset by the Maroons' other issues as they lost their fourth consecutive contest.

North Clay jumps out of the frying pan and into the fire as they will get back on the bus Saturday and head to Altamont to play the Indians in yet another key conference and sub-sectional seeding contest.

“It was important for us to bounce back tonight and give us some momentum going forward,” said Coach Zink. “This was a big game for us. I don't think a lot of people knew how big this was for us.”

Both teams will be looking for wins to help bolster their postseason placement.

Dieterich has a few days to lick their wounds (practice) before playing @ Flora on Thursday night and at the Altamont Shootout on February 9 against 2A Shelbyville.

“We felt like if we came out (tonight) and played the way that we wanted to play defensively that we would be able to get up and down the floor,” said Coach Zink. “You never know about Dieterich. They hang around and in the tournament (NTC) we couldn't put them away. But tonight we had the opportunity to put them away and we did late.”

National Trail Conference
North Clay
North Clay
North Clay (57) – Rinehart 3 1 0-0 9, Fllener 3 1 2-2 11, Jones 2 0 2-2 6, Miller 4 0 1-2 9, Turner 6 0 2-3 14, Smith 0 0 2-2 2, Bible 0 0 6-8 6, Bailey 0 0 0-0 0, Noll 0 0 0-0 0, Holkenbrink 0 0 0-0 0, Bullard 0 0 0-0 0. 2FG-18, 3FG-2, FT-15-19, PF-19.
Dieterich (40) – E. Bohnhoff 1 1 0-0 5, Budde 0 0 0-0 0, D. Will 0 0 0-0 0, Hunziner 1 0 2-4 4, T. Will 0 0 1-2 1, S. Bohnhoff 0 0 0-0 0, Dogra 0 0 0-0 0, Hartke 2 1 5-8 12, Westendorf 0 0 0-0 0, Einhorn 3 0 6-7 12, Elmore 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-10, 3FG-2, FT-14-21, PF-18.

Fouled Out
– Rinehart - North Clay.
Technical Fouls – None.