MASON CITY – Mason City boys basketball coach Nick Trask knew that there would be a learning curve for the Mohawks in the early part of the year.
Still, after a tough six-game losing skid, Trask was looking for something positive headed into the winter break.
On Monday, the Mohawks put together a solid overall performance to edge a gutty Clear Lake squad 70-63.
“I’m really proud of these guys,” Trask said. “For these guys to keep making progress with their heads up is a testament to their will to improve.”
The game was close throughout as neither team managed a double-digit lead during the game.
Mason City looked like it was going to run away from the Lions in the second quarter when the Mohawks went on a 13-4 run to pull out to a 25-16 advantage.
Following a timeout, Clear Lake responded with eight consecutive points, and the teams went back-and-forth until the Mohawks used a strong performance from the free-throw line over the final three minutes to edge out to the final margin.
One key for Mason City was a balanced offense that saw four players reach double figures in scoring.
Dylan Miller, the Mohawks’ leading scorer on the season at 17.4 points per game, led the Mohawks with 24.
While Miller was unable to hit from beyond the three-point line, the junior guard was 12-of-16 from the free-throw line, including 7-of-8 over the final eight minutes.
Ben Pappas added 14 points – including nine in the fourth quarter.
Pappas was 6-of-6 from the free-throw line and 4-of-5 from the floor.
Jake Rood, who hit two big threes in the first quarter, finished with 11 while Jarvorius Toney added 10 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Mason City also took good care of the basketball as the Mohawks had just six total turnovers over the final three quarters.
Zach Lester put together another monster performance for the Lions.
The senior guard was consistently able to weave through the Mohawks defense and get to the rim to help Clear Lake stay close.
Lester finished with 36 points on 16-for-23 shooting.
Jared Penning added eight points for the Lions.
Mason City (2-6) has more than two weeks off before it returns to the court on Jan. 2 when it will play host to Fort Dodge.
Clear Lake (4-3) returns to North Central Conference play tonight when it travels to Iowa Falls-Alden.
After a stretch of seven road games in ten outings to start the season, the Lions return home on Jan. 8.