While the famous song might encourage people to “Fly Like an Eagle,” last week, the Clear Creek boys basketball team made sure the Eagles were grounded.
The Golddiggers took on the Gilpin Eagles in a Jan. 25 home game, blasting them away with a 55-14 win. Before the Jan. 28 game at Lyons, Clear Creek was 3-2 in the league and 3-8 overall.
While turnovers plagued both teams throughout the night, especially in the first quarter, Clear Creek managed to capitalize on Gilpin’s. Overall, the Golddiggers’ improved man-to-man defense and good shot selection helped them stay well ahead of the Eagles all night.
“We had a tough game against Highland,” Clear Creek coach Scott Haebe said of the 42-96 home loss on Jan. 21. “This was a good way to bounce back. … (The Golddiggers) played with a lot of energy and enthusiasm.”
Both teams got off to a shaky start. After Clear Creek scored the first bucket of the night, there were three straight minutes of missed baskets and turnovers on both sides.
The Golddiggers started to get a foothold with 3:25 left in the first quarter, on a breakaway basket. A subsequent dunk by Colin Hendrickson gave the Golddiggers a 6-0 lead and the momentum, and forced the Eagles to call a timeout.
With less than 25 seconds left in the first quarter, Gilpin finally scored its first basket.
Clear Creek had a 9-2 lead as the second quarter started, and by then, the team had finally found its rhythm.
With four minutes left before halftime, the Golddiggers entered bonus and scored two buckets off two consecutive steals. The second also drew a foul, and Clear Creek made the subsequent free throw and now lead 19-5.
Before the halftime buzzer sounded, Clear Creek scored a three-pointer and a fast-break layup. The Golddiggers went into the half up 26-6.
Clear Creek’s 14-6 third-quarter run was a combination of fast-break points, made free throws and a trey.
Even though the starters took their proverbial bow midway through the fourth quarter — and received a roar of applause from the home crowd — Clear Creek still managed a 15-2 run to close out the game.
“We hit our stride in the second quarter,” senior center Zach Pitts said. “We were able to take the momentum.”
He and junior center Joe Monseu noted that Clear Creek typically has a slow start and builds up its intensity as it goes, and on Jan. 25, that worked out. However, they want to improve and “try to get that intensity right off the bat,” as Pitts said.
Monseu and Haebe both felt that the Golddiggers’ defense was well-executed, with Haebe explaining that they’ve been practicing defensive positioning and trapping techniques recently.
Overall, the Golddiggers believed that their team chemistry is finally clicking. Injuries have kept the roster in flux all season, Haebe said, but Clear Creek had won three of its last four games before traveling to Lyons on Jan. 28.
“It feels like we’re working better as a team,” Monseu said. “It took longer than we wanted, but it’s happening.”