CLEVER –– Senior Allie Clevenger and her Clever Lady Jays proved to be too formidable a test for Marshfield in its season opener.
The senior scored a game-high 27 points as Clever got the better of visiting Marshfield, who fell 63-49 Friday night.
Clevenger wasn’t can’t-miss from the floor, but was steady in getting to the line (8 of 10 free throws) to score well above her average of 15.6 points from last year.
“The thing was to keep constant pressure on her, really squeezing her when she’s off the ball and closing off those lanes when she’s getting to the basket,” Marshfield head coach Katie Pritchard said. “She’s just a really great player, and when you take one thing away from her, she’s going to get to the rim in another way. She played a great game, but I thought our girls put up a really good effort with her.”
Marshfield searched for stability with a helping of turnovers and missed shots after the opening tip that allowed Clever to jump out to a 12-2 start, but sophomore Kori Cromer stroked the team’s first 3-pointer of the year, and the difference was closed to three before long.
“I think we came out and had some nerves, maybe a little too much excitement,” Pritchard said. “We were playing a little too fast and getting ahead of ourselves, and it took a little bit to settle down. I think once we did and figured things out we started to play a little better.”
The visiting Lady Jays looked alone in terms of foul trouble after the opening few minutes, but the tables turned as Clever joined them by getting into the double bonus before the first half ended.
“We had two players sitting on the bench in no time,” Clever head coach Dan Jones said. “We did talk about our defense [at halftime], because we were not happy with our effort in the first half. We wanted to stop their penetration because we know that’s what they like to do.”
Marshfield may have trailed by more than eight at intermission if not for a nine-point second quarter from junior Brooklyn Crawford, who operated well from the baseline and the top of the key.
“She came out this year with kind of this new excitement and mentality about basketball,” Pritchard said of Crawford, who ended with a team-high 16 points. “Our coaches have been watching and going, ‘This kid can really be good.’ We were excited for her to come out and showcase it, and she did.”
“We know she’s capable of doing it every night. It’s too early to tell, but we hope we see that every night,” the coach added with a laugh.
Cromer led off the second half properly by knocking down her second triple of the evening, but Marshfield didn’t score again until Addison Crider’s right-handed floater halted an 11-0 Clever run with 3:45 to go in the third quarter, which ended with Marshfield trailing by 17.
The sizable lead marginalized Clever’s foul trouble –– three starters were settled with four personals with over three minutes remaining –– and quick shots that Marshfield helped force with relatively efficient pressure as time became the enemy.
Senior Dani Brewer followed up Crawford with 14 points, and the trio of Cromer, Crider and Joiner each had six for Marshfield in the defeat.
Senior forward Madison Gladney finished with 16 points, and sophomore Ruthie Brown scored 10 of her 12 in the second half to aid Clever’s win.
“Clever’s a good basketball team, and we knew it would be a good test, and we wanted to see what we can do with our quickness against players like that,” Pritchard said. “It’s game one and it’s a work in progress. Today, it was the little things [we needed to do better] like boxing out, hitting the boards, getting low on defense. Those are things we need to clean up that will take some time and focus to do. I think there was a concentrated effort to do it tonight; we’ve just got to keep hammering it in.”
Marshfield enjoys 10-day layoff that includes the Thanksgiving break before taking the court again in Ash Grove.
“We know tonight is about those little things we didn’t do, so we have to get back to work and focus on them,” Pritchard said. “We’re excited to have this time to get into the gym, practice those things and get better.”
Bryan can be followed on Twitter @BryanEversonMF.