BY ANTHONY VENCE email@example.com
A late fourth quarter rally by Fountain Central led to a 63-56 win over host Clinton Prairie Saturday night.
Clinton Prairie held a 35-27 lead at halftime in part due to stellar 3-point shooting by junior guard Kayla Pearson. She hit all five of her 3-pointers in the first half and finished the game with 19 points, hitting 71 percent of her shots from behind the arc.
In the second half, Fountain Central made a defensive adjustment, which took away the shooting lanes from Pearson.
“I just thank my teammates for getting me the ball,” Pearson said on her shooting performance in the first half. “In the second half they locked down on me, so I really couldn’t get any more shots off.”
The consistent post play of Clinton Prairie junior Madison Douglass was key to the team’s scoring throughout the game. She finished the game with 18 points and seven rebounds before exiting the game late in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury.
“She just fell on [her shoulder] awkwardly, so we’re just hoping that she’ll have a full recovery,” Clinton Prairie head coach Jason Haid said after the game.
Haid said the play of Pearson and Douglass was an important factor in the team’s early success against Fountain Central.
“[Douglass] runs the floor so hard, and we’re able to get her some easy buckets when she runs the floor very hard,” he said. “If we’re able to hit up [Pearson] there on the wing it’s kind of pick your poison. Do you want to close down on Douglass or do you want to take away the shooter?”
“They were leaving Pearson open early on and she got some shots,” he added. “Kayla has had a bad ankle for the two weeks of the season, and she’s starting to get fresh again. It was a real bright spot to see her get going. We really needed that from her, and I expect that to continue.”
With a one-point deficit and 3:11 left in the final quarter, Fountain Central sophomore Macee Williams went to the line to shoot two free throws. She made the first one, tying the game, and missed the second, but the rebound was recovered and Fountain Central hit the basket and took its first lead since leading 16-14 in the opening quarter.
Clinton Prairie kept the game close at the end, but missed a few free throws late in the game.
“In the fourth quarter we missed a lot of free throws,” Haid said. “You can’t do that in a close game like this.”
Haid said Fountain Central’s defensive adjustment at halftime made it tough for his team to get consistent scoring in the second half.
“They switched defenses up on us, they took our shooter away, and we had trouble freeing her up,” he said. “Once they went to man we had trouble dumping the ball inside, and we started settling for a lot of jump shots, and we didn’t take very good care of the ball.”
Haid said Fountain Central’s depth also played an important role in the game.
“They’re a pretty deep team,” he said. “They’re able to sub throughout the game, and they started beating us down the floor a little bit in the third quarter. I think that was the difference of them getting back into it.”