Boys basketball: SV faces first test of adversity against Warriors
Some teams are fortunate enough to have players with quick speed and athleticism on their rosters. Others are favored with height and strength.
The Clear Lake boys basketball team possesses all of these favorable qualities.
The Warriors traveled to Spring Valley on Thursday, Nov. 30 where they delivered the Cardinals their first loss of the season. The Cardinals fell 42-61 to the physical Warriors.
"That's a really good team," Cardinals head coach Rob Bosshart said. "They're probably a favorite to win our half sectional."
Clear Lake started three players who are listed as 6'4" or taller: Marshall Cain, 6'4", finished with eight points; Bryce Hacker, 6'5", added 14 points to his team's win; and junior Bailey Blanchard, 6'5", led the Warriors with 25 points.
The Cardinals were able to stick with the long and tall Warriors for the first seven minutes of the game, but Clear Lake soon used their height advantage at the low post position. The Spring Valley defenders were forced to front their opponents in the paint, which allowed for Clear Lake's guards to lob in easy passes to Blanchard, Cain and Hacker for effortless buckets. The Warriors went on a 10-2 run with this tactic.
Offensively, the Cardinals made hesitant passes that the Warriors were able to pick off and convert into breakaway layups. Clear Lake was controlling the pace of the uptempo game, while Spring Valley tried to manage their frustration.
"It's hard to run if you're not getting some rebounds or getting some turnovers," Bosshart said. "They were doing that, so they were able to run a little better."
Bosshart switched his team's defense to a 2-3 zone late in the first half, which clogged up the lane for the Warriors and helped slow things down a bit for the Cardinals.
SV's 6'0" senior Zack Williams scored a bucket and junior Dylan Bosshart picked up a steal and two points from the free-throw line to give their team some encouragement before entering the locker room down by 11 (18-29) at the half.
To start the second half, the Cardinals managed to cut the Warriors lead to 10 with an Aaron Borgerding layup and three-pointers from Bosshart and sophomore Trevor Stangl, but the Warriors refused to let up and continued to take it to the Cardinals in the lane and from outside.
"We played well in zone and got the tempo back to where we wanted it," Bosshart said of his team's second-half performance. "We just had a tough time matching up with that size."
The fatigued Cardinals players were unable to quickly close out on Clear Lake's bigs who stretched out their zone offense and continued to connect from beyond the three-point arc.
The Warriors maintained a double-digit lead throughout the second half, and put their reserves in once their lead was extended to 61-34. From there, the Cardinals went on an 8-0 run, but their late run wasn't nearly what they needed to secure a comeback.
Thursday night's 61-42 finish dropped the Cardinals to 1-1 and gave the 1-0 Warriors their first of many probable wins to come.
"They did get our guys frustrated, but we've got to grow from that," Bosshart said following his team's loss. "We just have to remember that it was only one game, but we've got to learn some things from this."
After last season, the Cardinals graduated 70 percent of their scoring and 70 percent of their rebounding, according to coach Bosshart.
"Even more than that, we lost a lot of leadership from last year's kids," Bosshart said. "They just did a tremendous job last year of keeping guys together on the court, encouraging guys to work hard in practice, coming in in the morning to work out, getting in in the weight room and just doing the things that you don't have to constantly harp on them about. That's a big thing we have to try and replace."
Dylan Bosshart scored 18 points in SV's win on Tuesday, Nov. 28 against Eau Claire Immanuel Lutheran and 11 points against Clear Lake, and Aaron Borgerding contributed 16 points on Tuesday and led the Cardinals with 13 points against the Warriors.
"I think those two in particular have to expand their games," Bosshart said. "Last year they had the opportunity to score and do things that they were pretty good at, because [last year's seniors] got some attention from the defense so it kind of freed them up a little bit. They could just kind of play their game, and this year without those other guys they're gonna see better defenders.
"They played a lot of minutes tonight, and that's going to be the story," Bosshart continued. "So they're going to have to play through not only when they get tired, but maybe when things don't go exactly the way they want."
Clear Lake provided Bosshart, Borgerding and their teammates with the perfect challenge of fighting through adversity on Thursday night, and coach Bosshart hopes his team will be able to better execute against such tests by the end of the season.
"That's a team we want to be able to compete with at the end of the season," Bosshart said, "so we have to keep that in mind every single day in practice. Little by little we'll get better."
Bosshart reminded his players that Thursday night's loss was just "one game," and that they need to move on and focus on their big week ahead.
Next, the Cardinals face Alma/Pepin on Tuesday, Dec. 5, Glenwood City on Thursday, Dec. 7, and head to UW-Stout to take on Osseo-Fairchild in Saturday Dec. 9's Northwest Tipoff Classic.
Thursday, Nov. 30 Spring Valley vs. Clear Lake
Clear Lake...............29 32 -- 61
Spring Valley............18 24 -- 42
Clear Lake (points)—Blanchard 25, Hacker 14, Cain 8, Bad Horse 7, Hughes 5, Rosen 2.
SV (points)—Borgerding 13; Bosshart 11; Williams 6; McMurrin 4; Stangl, Walkky 3; Kado 2.