Clausell's strong effort powers Girard triumph
By Greg Gulas
Girard boys basketball coach Craig Hannon didn’t like the way his Indians ended the 2017 schedule, dropping a seven-point decision to Lakeview.
After Friday’s 59-47 victory over Brookfield, Hannon is hoping that his up-and-down squad can build some momentum and continue their winning ways well into the New Year.
Austin Clausell had a game-high 17 points, Anthony Backus added 13 and a stingy Girard defense held Brookfield to just 26 points through the first three quarters as the Indians won their All-American Conference Blue Tier game.
It was a contest in which the Indians forced 21 turnovers, including 10 in the opening session.
“We started conference play 0-3, so this was a really big win for us,” Clausell said. “Coach Hannon has been hard on us in practice and keeps encouraging us, but it’s up to us to push it and play all-out at both ends of the court.”
The Warriors (0-8, 0-5) took an early 6-2 lead on buckets by Nate Smoot and Brady Reichert, and two free throws by Conner Stevens.
But four points each from Backus and Claussell keyed a 10-0 Indians run as they forged a 12-6 advantage, settling for a 12-8 lead heading to the second frame.
Backus said his team finally did what’s necessary to win games.
“We need to keep doing those little things, like diving on the floor, rebounding, hitting our free throws, finding the open man, boxing out and playing every possession,” Backus said. “We have a really nice group of young players that always push us in practice and that has helped.”
Seven points by Clausell and four by Christian Graziano in the second period helped stake the Indians (4-6, 1-3) to a 29-17 lead at the half.
“This was a big win for us because it was at home and our first conference victory,” Hannon said. “We’d win one, then lose one or split a pair and we couldn’t seem to gather any momentum.
“We’re hoping to do that now, starting the New Year off on the right foot as we look to and prepare for March.”
Clausell continued to torch the nets after intermission, hitting two of his triples in the period and eight overall as Girard opened a 49-28 margin with eight minutes remaining.
Trailing 55-30, the Warriors then ran off 10 straight points. Jordan Stone had four of his team-high 14 markers during the run and nine overall in the quarter as the Warriors pulled to within 55-40.
Stone scored the last five points of the game to make the final score respectable.
“The game got away from us a bit and was a little more physical that we expected,” Brookfield head coach Shawn Hammond said.
Neither team was stellar at the foul line with the Indians canning just 17 of 28 attempts and Brookfield barely at .500, hitting 10 of their 19 opportunities.
Smoot was the only other Warriors player in double figures, finishing with 12.