No. 1 Clear Lake too much for Gael boys

After the first quarter in the Gael gym on Friday night, the St. Edmond boys looked like a team ready to hand Clear Lake its first loss of the season and climb right back into the running for the North Central Conference basketball title.

For the final three quarters, the Lions showed why they are the top-ranked team in Class 3A and frontrunners in the league.

The Lions, now 15-0 overall and 14-0 in the NCC, roared back from a nine-point deficit after the first stanza and completed a season sweep of St. Edmond (12-4, 11-4) with a 66-54 victory in front of a packed house.

St. Edmond head coach Adolph Kochendorfer had a simple answer when asked what changed in the second quarter that led the Lions to take control of the contest.

“They are just a very good team,” Kochendorfer said. “They made a run and got themselves back into it.”

A key play in the Lions’ run actually happened late in the first quarter, when St. Edmond senior standout Robby Burke picked up his third foul and had to sit down. He had eight points for the Gaels in the opening period.

“That was big when Robby got his third foul,” said Kochendorfer. “That changed what we wanted to do offensively.”

Spencer Davidson led the Lions with 23 points while Davis Dieken added 18 and Pete Swenson 10.

Robert Flattery had 16 off the bench to pace St. Edmond, including 10 in the first quarter. Landon Peed had 14, Burke finished with 12 and Konrad Laufersweiler scored 10.

“I was happy with the bench players,” said Kochendorfer. “Robert hit some big shots and Harrison (Mayer) did a good job.”

St. Edmond was 11 for 17 in the first quarter alone and moved the lead to double figures at 20-10 with 2:28 on back-to-back buckets by Flattery. In sharp contrast, the Gaels were just 2-of-8 in the second period.

Clear Lake had five triples in the second period on 8-of-14 shooting.

Flattery’s three just before the first-quarter buzzer put the Gaels up 25-16, but Clear Lake started the second quarter on a 13-2 run and took a 39-27 lead with 5:21 left in the half.

Peed hit a pair of free throws with 4:43 left to tie the game at 32-all, but six straight by Clear Lake gave the Lions a 38-32 lead.

St. Edmond came out cold to start the second half, missing its first seven shots before Peed hit a bucket to make it 44-38 with 4:12 to play in the third period.

But the Lions reeled off the next nine points and the lead grew to 53-38 with 2:06 left on a traditional three-point play by Davidson. It was 55-40 with one quarter left.

In their win over the Gaels back on Jan. 9, the Lions used a 20-point fourth period to pull away. The Gaels didn’t let that happen last night. In fact, St. Edmond scored nine straight to open the fourth period and cut the lead to 55-49 with 4:33 to play.

The Gaels were within five points at 56-51 with 3:15 left on a bucket by Peed, but they never got any closer.

Peed led the Gaels with 10 rebounds while Burke pulled down eight. St. Edmond committed 15 turnovers.

The Gaels get no time to lament the loss either, hitting the road on Saturday to meet No. 6 (2A) Carroll Kuemper to cap a three-game week. Tip time is 6 p.m.

Kuemper took an 11-3 record into last night’s game at Harlan.