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Neal's 28 points help Gophers shoot down Stars

By AARON KENNEDY - akennedy@ftimes.com

The Clinton Prairie girls’ basketball team won its 10th game in a row, beating the Western Boone Stars, 51-39, Saturday at Jefferson.

Trailing 6-2 three minutes into the opening quarter, the Gophers got back-to-back-to-back buckets from junior point guard Tatum Neal to give Clinton Prairie a lead it would not surrender again in the game. The Gophers led 17-15 late in the second before going on a 10-0 run to end the half, the Stars never again posed a real threat.

“This was a huge win,” Clinton Prairie head coach Jessi Johnson said. “Western Boone is tough. They play a tough schedule. They play lots of bigger schools. We knew they were going to come in a solid team ready for us, but I think that our kids executed our game plan to a T. Defensively, we switched it back and forth to try to keep them on their toes, and that was flawless. And it was the same with our offense. Besides a few lapses, we got the shots we wanted for the most part the entire 32 minutes. Our kids played a heck of a game.”

The Gophers allowed just four points in the second quarter and six in the third as they took control of the game.

“We talked about how we have to pick and choose what we are going to try to exploit,” Johnson said. “Today, we decided that we wanted to make them beat us from the outside. I think that we obviously chose correctly. They didn’t have a field goal in the second quarter. I think we really played lock-down defense.”

Neal was on her game versus the Stars, finishing with a game-high 28 total points.

“She played how Tatum Neal should play every game,” Johnson said. “She is my veteran point guard, and she works her butt off outside of practice and outside of the season to be able to have games like this. She really stepped up today and did a lot for us.”

Sophomore guard Katie Blacker and senior forward Taylor McKinney each finished with six points in the win.

“Taylor McKinney had a good game inside,” Johnson said. “She forced them to look at someone else. When we got the ball inside, they had to decide whether they were going to double down on her or focus on Tatum, so I think that helped us a lot.

“I think that we had a lot of role players in that second quarter - when we were subbing due to some fouls - who just stepped up and played. It was a total team win today.”

The Gophers (16-1, 4-1 Hoosier Heartland Conference) will try to make it 11 in a row when they take on the North White Vikings starting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, and coach Johnson hopes the Gophers keep playing the way they did Saturday.

“I told the girls that it is fun to play like this,” she said.

“I think that they understand that it is January, and we are coming down the stretch. We just want to continue to do those good things through these next few weeks.”

At Jefferson


Clinton Prairie

T. McKinney 3 0-0 6, Pletch 1 1-2 4, E. McKinney 1 0-0 2, Blacker 1 4-4 6, Neal 10 3-7 28, Lloyd 1 1-3 3, Burris 1 0-0 2. Totals – 18 9-16 51.

Western Boone

Jones 6 4-5 16, Raby 0 2-2 2, Florey 2 2-4 6, Brewer 3 1-2 10, Reed 1 0-0 3, Klingensmith 1 0-1 2. Totals – 13 9-14 39.

Western Boone 11 4 6 18 — 39

Clinton Prairie 15 12 6 18 — 51

3-point goals – Clinton Prairie 6 (Neal 5, Pletch), Western Boone 4 (Brewer 3, Reed). Totals – Clinton Prairie 12, Western Boone 18.