Loudon opens floodgates for Clinton
CLINTON--When Clinton's shots weren't falling early on Tuesday night, the Cougars turned to their freshman to rattle the lid off the basket.
They missed their first 17 shots before Kelly Loudon broke the ice with a drive to the basket for a layup.
The floodgates opened for Clinton from there, and it cruised to a 58-32 victory over visiting Parkview in Rock Valley Conference girls basketball action.
“There was a lid on the bucket,” Cougars senior Mallory Niemann said. “We just needed to take more time on our shots, and we just started forcing things. Once we settled down, we made better decisions and got shots.”
Clinton, ranked No. 9 in the latest Division 3 state AP poll, improved to 9-2 overall and 4-2 in the RVC South, where it is in second place. Parkview fell to 4-7 and 2-6.
Both teams were stuck in neutral for the opening six minutes, combining to make just one basket and two free throws before heating up.
“We just kept telling them to keep shooting, that they would eventually fall and it's OK,” Clinton coach Mike Powers said. “Kelly finally hit a basket, and the next timeout we just said, 'Kelly, we'd like to personally thank you for smashing the lid off the basket.'”
Loudon, who averages less than five points per game, had four in the first quarter, and her driving, old-fashioned three-point play early in the second sparked a 12-0 run for the Cougars.
She matched her career high with nine points, and Clinton led by double digits the rest of the way.
“The last four or five games Kelly has just come on stronger and stronger,” Powers said. “Nothing fazes her. She doesn't have a lot of highs and lows. She plays above what you'd expect from a freshman.”
Ciarra Heldt led Parkview, which went without a bucket in the second quarter and never saw its offense come fully untracked, with nine points.
Niemann, a senior who recently eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for her career, led all scorers with 12 points. Clinton center Heather Buckler added 10.
“It's nice to have a big post that we can go to,” Niemann said. “It's hard for the defense to adjust, because we have outside shooters and a post. So we always look inside and make sure we get her touches.
“I think we're going strong. We can definitely beat the teams that we're expected to beat.”
Clinton's next big test comes Friday at McFarland, which is unbeaten in the RVC North.