CLEAR LAKE — Just before the season began back in November, Clear Lake coach Bart Smith said his team had a long way to go to live up to what it had done the prior year to reach the state tournament.
Now, with half of the season officially in the books, Smith can confidently say the third-ranked Lions are getting closer to being that kind of team once again, but they know there’s still work to be done.
Regardless, when Clear Lake puts out a night like it did Monday in an 81-37 nonconference victory over New Hampton, the Lions can’t help but smile.
Sophomore Sara Faber tied a school record with a game-high 33 points, the Lions made a school-record 16 3-pointers, and they produced the second-highest scoring game in school history with 81.
“I remind our girls all the time that you can’t get too high, you can’t get too low,” Smith said. “This was just a night where we shot well and we’ve got to worry about our next game on Friday, enjoy this nice win and remember how we got the 81 and how we got the win.”
Starting with Faber, the Lions’ leading scorer could nearly do no wrong on Monday night.
She finished 11 for 14 from the floor and was 7 for 8 from beyond the 3-point line. She had 21 second-half points, and may have gotten the record, but was substituted out with the game well in hand.
The 33 points tied a school record that belongs to Megan Hendrickson and Emily Snelling.
“I was just kind of feeling it, I guess,” Faber said of her night.
It’s the players around her who made her better on this night.
Typical of this team, the Lions used their defense to produce offense in transition. If it wasn’t someone getting to the rim right away, it was a drive and a kick to an open player for a 3-pointer.
Clear Lake (11-1) forced 23 turnovers on the night, including five in the first two minutes of the game. The Lions also limited the Chickasaws to two field goals in the second half.
“We just wanted to keep the pace up like we did in the first quarter, so we were really trying to focus on that,” Faber said. “And then we were also trying to focus on transition defense, and so we just tried to move the ball in transition and find the open person.”
Jordyn Barragy and Ali Maulsby added nine points apiece for the Lions and Lexi Fasbender and Julia Merfeld each had six. The 81 total points came up short of the Lions’ record of 83.
One of the few flaws in an otherwise perfect performance on both ends of the court was a stretch of 3 minutes and 30 seconds at the end of the second quarter in which the Lions didn’t score. Couple that with some rebounding issues and Clear Lake has a little left to perfect before it’s ready for tournament time.
“Coaches, we’re greedy,” Smith said. “We want things to be better all the time and be our best every time.
“We did shoot well, I’m very happy with that, and we were just all unselfish. And then Sara was feeling it. I just thought we ran our offense well and she took the right shots.”