CLEAR LAKE — With the postseason rapidly approaching, Clear Lake’s identity on the basketball court is beginning to round itself off. That much was apparent Thursday night in the Lions 48-47 come-from-behind victory over rival Garner-Hayfield-Ventura.
Zach Lester has been the driving force of the Lions this season, but Thursday night, it was a host of others who left their mark on this win.
“It’s great to see because now teams are going to look at it and say ‘OK, they’re not just Zach Lester,’” Clear Lake coach Jeremey Ainley said. “Against a very good team with a Division-I post player, you’re proving that you’re more than just a one-man band.”
GHV used runs of 6-0 and 7-0 early in the third quarter to increase its lead to 37-22 and things looked to be getting close to out of hand.
The Cardinals had held Lester in check as he had five points through three quarters, but this gave way for others to forge their own story.
Clear Lake whittled that lead down to 11 after three quarters, down 39-28, and then the Lions got hot. Tate Storbeck and Sam Pedelty started raining in 3-pointers and, suddenly, the Lions had life.
“I didn’t even think about it until we were down like seven. I was like, ‘All right. Keep shooting and keep making it,’” Storbeck said. “But once we got it down, I was like, ‘All right. We’re going to win this.’ Once we get momentum, and once people start hitting shots, they just keep falling.”
Storbeck and Pedelty had two 3-pointers apiece in the fourth, and Drew Enke splashed in one of his own. With under two minutes to play, the Lions forced a crucial turnover, and Lester turned it into a layup to give Clear Lake its first lead since the opening minute of the game, up 48-47.
“We were kind of looking pretty grim there,” Storbeck said. “Sam it some big shots, Drew did, Zach made some great passes, but our defense was what (did it). We kind of changed up with that zone a bit, so I think they were a little shocked by that.”
GHV had one last chance to take the lead, but a 3-pointer by James Betz fell short with three seconds to play.
Storbeck led the Lions with 14 points, Lester had 10 and Pedelty chipped in nine.
Betz had a game-high 19 for the Cardinals and Nick Joynt added 16.
Although they would’ve liked the win, the Cardinals were just happy to get the game in the gym they could play a district final in down the road.
“I told the kids I’m going to be done with this in about 30 seconds because it’s such an odd time of the season to have this game, so for us, we would’ve like to have won, but in the long term, is anybody going to remember this game?" GHV coach Joe Albertson said. “It doesn’t mean anything for us because the next set is tournament games, and those are the ones you’ll remember.”