January 08, 2014 - Cagers did not have on their list of goals for 2014 to lose their first game back from break.
Michael Nicholson reaches to score on the Eaglets. Photo by Larry Wright (click for larger version)
But after a physical battle against Orchard Lake St. Mary's last Friday the Clarkston Varsity Boys Basketball began the new year with their first loss of the season, 59-51.
"The game was really physical," said long-time head coach Dan Fife. "I don't think we responded to the physical part of the game. When in Rome you have to do what the Romans do. They were physical and I don't think we adjusted. They just out competed us. They out toughed us - physically and mentally."
The Wolves opened the game putting 17 points on the board in the first quarter and keeping the Eaglets down to 12 points.
The tides turned in the second quarter as St. Mary's outscored Clarkston 11-4 to take the lead and head into half-time with a 3-pointer from Jalen Watts-Jackson, 23-21.
"We had chances," said Fife. "It wasn't like we weren't playing - they just out toughed us."
The Wolves cut the lead and tied the game with three minutes left to go, putting the score 45-45. The Eaglets fought back with baskets and free throws to take back the lead.
Fife added the boys missed a lot of shots and would have won if they would have scored on those baskets.
"It was a great basketball game in a small setting," Fife added. "It was a small compact gym and a great atmosphere. They took care of their own court."
Senior Nick Owens led with 16 points, with three 3-pointers during the game. Senior Michael Nicholson and junior Andrew Myers scored 11 points for the night. Juniors Josh Bonzheim and Merrick Canada scored a field goal each.
As the boys head into the next stretch of games, Fife hopes the boys reflect on the loss and learn from it.
"Anytime anyone out competes you, you better learn from it otherwise you can only be so good," he said. "If that is a measuring stick to winning then you better be able to match it otherwise you aren't going to be that good. The good teams are going to play hard and you have to be able to respond."
The Wolves host Pontiac this Friday before heading to Rochester Adams next Tuesday.
Fife added anything could happen going into the two games.
"It depends on how they take this loss," he said. "From every loss, they should learn something. From every mistake, they should learn something. Otherwise you are not getting better. Coaches as well - what aren't we doing in in practice that the kids can't match that intensity level? In order to help yourself you have to refocus on why and what you can do to change it."
JV begins at 5:30 p.m., varsity follows.
Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.