Clyde survives poor shooting to advance

Fliers (16-7) draw Norwalk (23-1) in district semifinals
Mark Hazelwood
Mar 1, 2014

Years from now, no one will look at the banner or trophy case and ask how it got done.

In a Division II sectional championship, the Clyde boys basketball team opened the game 0 for 16 from the floor, and shot 1-of-21 from the field in the first half of Friday's game vs. Oak Harbor at Willard High School.

But in the end, the Fliers had a key 9-0 scoring surge early in the fourth quarter that proved to be a difference in a 44-34 win.

“That's not very good, is it?” Clyde coach Ryan Carter said aloud after digesting his team's shooting performance. “But moving on is the bottom line and what it really comes down to,” he said. “It shows some perseverance that you can battle through something like that when you don't get shots to fall, but stick with it.

“I thought we had a nice little run there in the third quarter and finally knocked down some shots,” he added. “It got us going a little bit. But I'm just proud of the way the guys stuck with it. That's very hard to fight through, when it's going that poorly for you.”

With the win, Clyde (16-7) advances to Wednesday's district semifinal at Mansfield Senior High School, where they have an 8 p.m. matchup with No. 2-ranked Norwalk (23-1).

Perhaps the biggest key to Friday's game took place while the Fliers were missing 16 consecutive shots to start. While nothing would fall, the Rockets (7-17) only held a 9-1 lead with 4:33 left in the first half. The Rockets committed 10 turnovers in the game's first 14 minutes, canceling out hopes at jumping out to a big double-digit lead.

“I thought early on we did a nice job defensively,” Carter said. “Because when we weren't scoring early, they only had eight points, so they really weren't either. It wasn't a 15-point margin or anything like that, it gave us something to work with.”

While the Fliers struggled to shoot the ball from the floor, it was the opposite for the Rockets at the foul line, where they finished just 1-of-12.

“I thought Clyde played a good game, but you can't score 34 points and expect to win a game,” Oak Harbor coach Eric Sweet said. “We were 1 for 12 at the foul line, and they were 14 for 21, and we lost the game by ten. “But what really hurt us was our lack of making shots tonight. You can't expect to win a game with 1 for 12 at the line. It hurts too much.”

Trailing 27-25 with 58 seconds left in the third quarter, the Fliers went on the 9-0 run to turn the momentum for good. Eric Wiseman scored a basket to send the game to a 27-27 tie entering the fourth quarter, then Colin Gregory hit a pair of free throws, then converted a three-point play to make it 32-27 with 6:28 left.

Derek Gray capped the run with an easy layup, and suddenly after leading all game, the Rockets trailed 34-27 with 5:52 left. The Rockets were able to get within four on two different sequences down the stretch, the last at 38-34 with 1:24 left.

But they drew no closer, as Collin Rieman and Gray put the game away at the foul line with six straight free throws.

“We did everything defensively that we wanted to do, but we just weren't scoring,” Sweet said. “Our shooting tonight just really hurt us overall, and it wasn't for lack of opportunities either. We got quality shots, we attacked the rim and got to the foul line. We just couldn't make them tonight, no matter how hard we fought, Clyde had a big scoring streak there, and we didn't, and there is the game.”

Tate Haar finished with 17 points and eight rebounds for the Rockets, who won their first tournament game in nine years on Tuesday vs. rival Port Clinton.

“We did something that hasn't been done here in a long time, and that's win a tournament game,” Sweet said. “I know how bad they wanted to win tonight, and if you were at this game, you have to respect the Oak Harbor kids and what they gave this program tonight.”

Clyde got 10 points, including three big 3-pointers, from Dristan Cook, while Gray, Gregory and Rieman each scored eight points.

Carter was asked about facing a Norwalk team that is 70-3 since the 2011-12 season.

“We probably can't go 1 for 21 again,” he said. “They are a great basketball team and I have a lot of respect for them and their program. We have our work cut out for us, we know that.

“But tonight is only the sixth sectional our program has won in its history,” he added. “We don't win them very often, so we're going to enjoy this one and I told our kids to put 2014 up there as a sectional championship year means something, because we haven't had many at Clyde.”