SHEFFIELD – The Clear Lake boys basketball team had to feel like its opener at West Fork was steadily slipping away.
After trailing by just two at the intermission, the Lions saw West Fork edge out to a 10-point lead early in the fourth quarter.
Whatever happened in the Lions at that point in the game made the difference as Clear Lake went on a 20-4 run and pulled out an 86-82 win.
“It was the first night out so we had some mistakes,” Lions coach Jeremey Ainley said. “But we have a lot of guys we trust.”
One of those guys is senior guard Zach Lester.
Lester, who was Clear Lake’s leading scorer a season ago at 20.6 per contest, went off for 29 points in the second half alone and totaled 40 for the contest.
“I have to know when to distribute and when to do my thing,” Lester said.
The Lions needed everything that Lester could come up with in the second half as he netted 15 of the team’s 20 third-quarter points and added 14 more in the fourth-quarter rally.
Drew Enke added 21 points, including six over the final four minutes of the game.
Sean Wendel added 12, including four straight free throws in the waning moments.
For West Fork, while the loss may have been disappointing, veteran Warhawks coach Frank Schnoes got a good look at a team that returned just two starters from a season ago.
“Overall I was pleased,” Schnoes said. “Everyone who came in did a nice job.”
Zach Martinek, a junior guard who was West Fork’s leading scorer at 17.4 per game in 2016-17, opened the season with 25, including 16 in the second half.
More importantly for Schnoes was that the Warhawks had three other players reach double figures, including Mitchell Halloran and Nathan Meinders with 14 apiece and Thomas Nuehring with 12.
Clear Lake (1-0) opens North Central Conference play on Friday when it travels to Hampton-Dumont.
West Fork (0-1) also opens conference play when it plays host to Rockford in a Top of Iowa Conference East Division matchup on Friday.