North Clay’s offense looked as sharp as head coach Ben Farleigh wanted it to in a 53-39 win against Webber Township on Monday.
Sophomore Clayton Halterman powered the Cardinals to their opening round win in the Midland Trail Conference tournament with 21 points.
Halterman came off the bench and scored 17 of his 21 points in the third quarter, during a 22-point third quarter that helped the Cardinals reach a 19-point lead.
Farleigh said he saw his sophomore’s confidence rise in the middle of the game, as he became a focal point of the offense in the second half.
“We know what he’s capable of — he’s a big, strong kid — we were just waiting to see it,”
Halterman not only scored, but found teammates for open looks after his shot was taken away, Farleigh said, and he contributed to the defensive effort to stop Webber Township’s Corey Hammer.
Hammer scored a team-high 19 points in the game, but was the only Trojans player to score more than nine points. Only five players scored for the Trojans.
Jaxon Helm scored nine points for the Trojans and Farleigh said the little bit he knew about the opponent, coming into the game, was that they would try to get Hammer or Helm the ball.
North Clay held Helm scoreless in the first half, at which point the Cardinals led 25-14. Hammer didn’t score in the first quarter.
The Cardinals led 10-4 after the first quarter, but Farleigh wasn’t happy with how his offense was playing. He said Monday’s game was his team’s chance to pick up the pace on offense.
In the second quarter, the Cardinals’ offense was more deliberate – getting into the offense faster and creating shots sooner.
“They were kind of still in a hangover from the last couple games,” Farleigh said. “I thought we started moving the ball really well.”
Lawson Britton also benefited offensively, scoring 12 points. Garrett Rubsam added nine points and three other players also scored.
Farleigh said Monday’s win was the best so far for the Cardinals (3-7) because it was a balanced offensive and defensive attack.
“We helped on screens, doubled down on the post,” Farleigh said. “That’s what we have to have, otherwise we’re letting clear shots to the basket go.”
The win moves North Clay into the second round of the MTC tournament on Tuesday. The Cardinals travel to Odin, the second seed, for a 7 p.m. tipoff.
Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
North Clay 10 15 22 6 53
Webber Township 4 10 14 11 39
NC: VanDyke 2, Cox 5, Rubsam 9, Young 4, Britton 12, Halterman 21
WT: Johnson 6, Helm 9, Raymer 4, Hammer 19, Wheeler 1