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Wolves snip Phoenix midflight

Marcus Hardy jumps to score against Pontiac. Photo by Larry Wright (click for larger version)
February 23, 2011 - Junior Mitch Baenziger nailed a field goal with 2:28 left in the third quarter to give Clarkston a one-point lead over Pontiac.

Senior Marcus Hardy added two more points to give the Wolves more edge going into the final quarter.

Anticipation grew as the Phoenix slipped farther away from the lead until the buzzer sealed Clarkston's seventh consecutive win, 60-48.

"We weren't ready for the pressure they put on us last time we faced them," said Hardy, referring to the Wolves loss to them in January, 67-51. "This time around I was trying to focus on moving around and staying active. We handled their pressure pretty good and it was more of a game where we got into the creases making them chasing us around."

Pontiac opened the game with a 3-pointer which junior Nick Tatu responded to with his own to put Clarkston on the board.

Another 3-pointer from Tatu put Clarkston in the lead a few minutes later.

Matt Dellinger and Hardy's baskets added to the lead until Pontiac caught up with 2:07 left in the first quarter. They tied the score at ten points.

Hardy scored again with 1:55 to go to get the lead back. Matt Rodgers added a three point shot to the score 40 seconds later.

Baenziger added one more basket before the quarter ended, 17-14.

The boys continued to add more to their score as Pontiac steadily caught up until they pulled themselves into the lead with 1:05 left in the half.

"It seemed like the game was all spurts," said Clarkston Boys Varsity Basketball Head Coach Dan Fife. "We would be up, they would catch us. They would be up, we would catch them."

Max Collins attempted one last shot before the half ended with a field goal. The ball swayed away from the rim and the net, ending the half four points away from the lead, 32-28.

The next half opened with the Wolves scoring on free throw shots and Rodgers sinking a three pointer four minutes in.

Clarkston continued their hold on the board going on a 14-point streak.

The Phoenix quickly got back into the game, closing in on the Wolves' lead and could have found a way past the home team.

With 1:30 left to go in the game and Clarkston holding the lead 49-47, Pontiac fouled on Hardy sending him to the line for two. He nailed both.

Seconds later teammate Baenziger was at the line also for two as the both teams watched closely.

Baenziger took a deep breath before walking up the the line and putting the two shots through the hoop.

More foul trouble from Pontiac kept Clarkston going to the line on four more trips, scoring seven out of eight throws. Two came from Hardy, two from Tatu and three from Baenziger.

Hardy led the night with 21 points, Baenziger added 15 and Tatu with 12.

The boys head off against North Farmington and West Bloomfield in their next set of home games and a chance to clinch the OAA Red title.

The Wolves still had a three-way tie after knocking Pontiac out of the running for first place. West Bloomfield and Southfield share the spot.

"Everybody's still in it," said Fife. "Anybody can beat anybody. Everybody's got four games left and we all still play each other. We stil have to take care of business."

JV begins at 5:30 p.m., varsity follows.

Join the Wolves after their home games for a slice of pizza, a cookie and a pop. All for the low cost of $3 - in the high school cafeteria.

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.
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