By Carl Hunnell
BELLVILLE – Chuck Schmitt was succinct after his Clear Fork girls’ basketball team fell to cross-county rival Madison on Tuesday, 36-32.
“You shoot that way (at the foul line), you’re going to have a hard time finding a victory,” he said. “You have that many turnovers in a game, you’re going to have a hard time finding a victory. And when you get out-rebounded that badly, you’re going to have a hard time finding victory.”
The numbers backed up Schmitt’s words.
The Colts shot just 8 percent from the foul line, missing 11 of 12 tries. Clear Fork turned the ball over 22 times, including 14 in the first half. And the Colts were doubled on the glass with Madison holding a commanding 40-20 edge in rebounding.
The non-league loss at the Colt Corral dropped Clear Fork to 5-10 while Madison is now 7-8.
CHANCE TO WIN: And despite all of that, Clear Fork was in the game against the taller Rams with a chance to win in the fourth quarter.
A triple by junior Val Golden trimmed a Madison lead to just 13-11 after one quarter. The Colts shot just one for seven from the field and 0-for-6 at the line in the second period as Madison built a 19-14 halftime lead.
After Madison built its lead to 25-16 two minutes into the third quarter, the Colts surged back on baskets by Macy Wade and Golden and a triple by sophomore Carson Crowner to cut the deficit to 27-24 going into the fourth.
“I think our execution has been there for awhile,” Schmitt said. “It comes down to execution.”
The effort continued into the fourth quarter, including a basket by Wade that cut the Madison lead to 32-30 with 1:40 left to play. But the Rams held serve with a basket by junior Rebecca Phelps and free throws by junior Brooklynn Arnold and sophomore Leah Boggs.
Wade hit a driving lay-up at the buzzer to close the scoring.
STATISTICALLY SPEAKING: Wade led all scorers with 11 points. Golden added five while senior Tabi Hamilton, senior Erika Robinson and junior Alli Studenmund each had four.
Arnold, a junior wing, made her return after missing three games with an injury, had nine points for the Rams, as did junior post Rebecca Phelps. Sophomore Leah Boggs had six for the Rams.
Clear Fork shot better from the field than the Rams. The Colts connected on 37 percent of its FG tries (14-38) while Madison hit 33 percent (12 of 36). The Rams made up the difference by hitting 11 of 20 from the foul line.
Clear Fork committed 22 turnovers compared to 29 for the Rams.
UP NEXT: Clear Fork hosts Galion on Thursday and then plays at Ontario on Saturday. Both are Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference games. Madison plays at Wooster on Thursday in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game.