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Clarkston girls stay undefeated, boys earn critical win in senior night sweep of East Valley

Feb. 7—With districts on the horizon, both the Clarkston boys and girls basketball teams are looking to close out the seasons on a high note to build momentum going into the postseason.

Both teams took steps to achieve that on Tuesday.

In front of a packed crowd at Kramer Gym in Clarkston, the Bantam girls earned a 74-20 win against the East Valley Knights of Spokane and the Clarkston boys got a 64-43 victory over East Valley.

The Clarkston girls, already guaranteed a No. 1 seed in districts and a first-round bye, kept their undefeated season alive and the Bantam boys' win over the Knights gave them the first of three must-win games slated this week if Clarkston is to earn a home game at districts.

Tuesday also doubled as senior nights for both teams, and the fourth year players showed out on a night in which all of them received recognition for high school years that began in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here's how Tuesday's games played out:

Girls seniors take center stage

With girls assistant coach Pat Sobotta filling in for coach Debbie Sobotta, who missed the game due to an illness, Clarkston (20-0, 10-0) put out a starting five that consisted of the honored seniors.

Kendall Wallace, Jordyn McCormack-Marks, Olivia Gustafson, Eloise Teasley and Alahondra Perez opened the game for the Bantams.

Every senior scored during the game and Wallace led the way with a game-high 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting, 15 of which came off of five 3-pointers.

The starting five was different than normal for the Bantams, leading to a bit of a slow start, but once the pace picked up at the tail end of the first quarter, it was back to business as usual for Clarkston.

East Valley (0-19, 0-9) was unable to stave off the Bantams' fast-paced offense and defense for very long, despite good play early against Clarkston's full-court press.

On a breakaway play, Jaelyn McCormack-Marks dished to Wallace, who passed it back to McCormack-Marks for a layup to take a 30-5 lead with 6:36 left in the second quarter. It highlighted the old guard and the new for the Bantam girls basketball team.

The rest was elementary for Clarkston, which put up an additional 27 points in the second half while holding the Knights to nine over the same span.

"These seniors have been so significant to the program," Pat Sobotta said. "And the younger players definitely have had a lot of successes. They've also had some difficult challenges, too. These seniors, their freshman year was the (COVID-19) season.

"I think they've set a good tone for what we want this program to be. They've done a great job in teaching our younger athletes in understanding how to play the game."

Boys fast pace pays off

Senior Carter Steinwand hit a 3-pointer with 4:14 left in the second quarter, giving Clarkston a 23-13 lead over East Valley (3-16, 0-9).

The Bantams (9-10, 3-5) never led by less than double digits the rest of the way.

Steinwand, along with the additional seniors of Xander Van Tine, Logan Hornby, Ian Moore and Nathan Somers, played a much faster pace than usual and made quick and decisive passes to rapid shot attempts that helped build their lead against the Knights.

The highlight of the game was the opening minute-and-a-half. Steinwand blazed to the bucket from the opening tip, Van Tine got the steal and layup on the ensuing inbound and Steinwand forced a turnover to get the score in the inbound after that to give Clarkston a 6-0 lead with 7:25 left in the first quarter.

Moore scored a bucket not even a minute later to put the Bantams up 8-0 over the Knights.

East Valley went on a 9-0 run to lead late in the first, which was its only advantage of the game before Clarkston took the lead back and hold on to it.

Bantams coach Justin Jones has been preaching a balanced offense the whole season, and he got it against the Knights. It wasn't perfect — Clarkston was in foul trouble for a large portion of the final three quarters and Steinwand fouled out with 1:50 left in the game.

Shooting percentages were also not where Jones wished (26-of-67 from the floor), but it was a step in the right direction for a team that also needs to win Thursday's game against Rogers and Friday's against Shadle Park to have a chance at hosting a district tournament game next week.

"The pace that we're trying to get to is going to come with flaws," Jones said. "And some of those are difficult shots, some of those are turnovers. And, on the defensive end, we're also trying to play fast and we're trying to extend pressure, and there'll be some flaws with that. And that comes in the form of fouls at times and giving up easy buckets.

"We have to play the percentages a little bit there. But my guys bring a lot of pace and intensity in what we're trying to accomplish."

Celebration and charity

In addition to the seniors who received their flowers (literally) between the girls and the boys games, team managers Sage Lone Bear, Zaid Blunt, Brooke Blaydes and cheer team athletes Gracie Wessels, Katie Leavitt and Adyson White were all honored.

Team manager Kylan Graham was honored in a different way.

During a 60-second intermission, the cheer team went around the crowd at Kramer Gym with plastic jars to raise cash for Graham's kidney transplant. The intermission was labeled "Medical Maniac Minute" and $1,325 was raised.

Players of the night

Wallace's 24 points were a game-high for both the boys and girls games. She also added three assists.

Steinwand led the Bantam boys with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting.

Up next

The Clarkston boys will play Thursday at 5:30 p.m. against the Rogers Pirates of Spokane in Clarkston — a make-up game that was postponed due to inclement weather.

The Bantam girls will play at 5:30 p.m. Friday against Shadle Park in Spokane.

BOYS

EAST VALLEY (3-16, 0-9)

Nehemiah Harry 3 0-1 8, Austin Anderson 0 2-2 2, Michael Martin 1 0-0 2, Payten Kintner-Burkhart 1 5-6 8, Tyson Rigby 2 2-4 6, Carsen Mertens 0 0-0 0, Auston LaVasseur 0 0-0 0, Samuel Shevchenko 0 1-2 1, Ethan Cloud 4 0-1 8, Malaki Nunn 0 1-2 1, Brady Flahavin 1 2-2 4, David Layne 1 0-0 3. Totals 13 13-20 43.

CLARKSTON (9-10, 3-5)

Isaiah Woods 0 0-0 0, Marcisio Noriega 2 2-2 7, Nate Somers 2 0-0 4, Logan Hornby 0 2-2 2, Xander Van Tine 3 2-2 8, Niko Ah Hi 2 0-0 4, Carter Steinwand 7 2-4 18, Josh Hoffman 5 0-0 10, Jason Rinard 1 1-2 3, Ian Moore 4 0-0 8. Totals 26 9-12 64.

East Valley 9 11 13 10—43

Clarkston 14 23 15 12—64

3-point goals — Harry 2, Kintner-Burkhart, Layne, Steinwand 2, Noriega.

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GIRLS

EAST VALLEY (0-19, 0-9)

Italia Salina 1 0-3 2, Abby Moore 3 0-0 7, Weather Salinas-Taylor 1 1-3 3, Nellie Goggin 1 0-0 3, Emmery Fatzinger 0 0-0 0, Hannah Rasmussen 1 0-0 3, Aspen Seamone 0 0-0 0, Jocelyn Weger 0 0-0 0, Jadyn Thomas 0 0-0 0, Abigail Dach 0 0-0 0, Ava Payne 1 0-0 2. Totals 8 1-6 20.

CLARKSTON (20-0, 10-0)

Jaelyn McCormack-Marks 3 0-0 8, Wallace 9 1-2 24, Gustafson 1 0-0 2, Preslee Dempsey 2 1-2 7, Ryann Combs 1 0-0 2, Aneysa Judy 1 2-2 4, Jordyn McCormack-Marks 1 0-0 3, Eloise Teasley 4 2-2 11, Ella Leavitt 0 0-0 0, Alahondra Perez 1 2-2 4, Joey Miller 0 0-0 0, Lexi Villavicencio 4 0-0 9. Totals 27 8-10 74.

East Valley 5 6 7 2—20

Clarkston 21 26 17 11—74

3-point goals — Moore, Goggin, Rasmussen, Wallace 5, Ja. McCormack-Marks 2, Dempsey 2, Jo. McCormack-Marks, Teasley, Villavicencio.

Kowatsch can be contacted at 208-848-2268, tkowatsch@lmtribune.com or on Twitter @Teren_Kowatsch.