By Jon Gremmels
Herald Sports Editor
Coming off its most impressive win in years, the Clinton Community College men’s basketball team has produced back-to-back duds.
Ellsworth handed the Cougars their second consecutive loss Wednesday, winning 77-54 at WJ Yourd Gymnasium, in a result quite similar to the Cougars’ 72-45 loss Saturday at Iowa Central. In neither game did CCC look anything like the team that knocked off Des Moines Area Community College last Wednesday in Clinton.
“It’s a total disappointment,” CCC coach Joe Shovlain said. “We’ve been humbled twice in a row.
“It can go either way (after a big win). Sometimes you build off it; sometimes you peak. The last two games we did not play consistently.
“We just haven’t been there the last two games. I don’t know why. We’ll get it back.”
The Cougars trailed all the way Wednesday after Ellsworth scored on its first possession, with 19 minutes, 19 seconds left in the first half.
The Panthers (12-6, 4-0 Iowa Community College Athletic Conference) attacked inside early, creating the lead they never lost.
Jared Fulks, who scored all 10 of his points in the first half, got Ellsworth started when he scored on a cut down the lane. Moments later, Malcolm Canada found David Weathers down low for a 4-0 lead.
After two Richard Hurt free throws put Clinton on the scoreboard, the Panthers pushed their advantage to 6-2 when Fulks found Derrell Lamb inside, to 9-4 when Weathers was fouled on a rebound follow and converted a three-point play and to 11-4 when Canada found Fulks cutting down the lane for another second-chance score.
“We really moved the ball,” Ellsworth coach Troy Muilenburg said, “probably as well as we have all year.”
The Cougars (5-12, 1-5) responded with a basket by Xzavion Jones and back-to-back buckets by James Randolph, who led all scorers with 15 points, as they cut the deficit to 11-10 with 13:34 remaining.
But, with Clinton forced to protect the inside after giving up five baskets in the paint, the Panthers switched their attack to the outside.
“We started to get guys playing well down there,” Muilenburg said. “When they’ve got to worry about the inside, those jump shots become easier.”
Abrie Anderson, who led Ellsworth with 11 points, went to work on the outside, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers from the right corner and the right wing to push the lead to 17-10.
“Coach said to catch and shoot when I get it,” said Anderson, who scored all his points in the first half. “(The inside game) helps out a lot because the defense has got to help on the wide-open layuyps, and it helps give me enough room to get my shot off.”
Defense was an issue for Clinton much of the game.
“We played more zone than we wanted to play,” Shovlain said. “Part of that was because of matchup problems we had with Canada (a 6-foot-3, 215-pound sophomore point guard). He’s a tough matchup for everyone in the league.”
The Cougars got within 19-16 when Randolph scored on a drive down the lane and Jones made a layup off a turnover with 9:41 left in the half. But they only got that close one more time, at 21-18.
Then, Ellsworth went on a 10-4 run, capped by another Anderson 3-pointer. The Panthers extended the lead to double digits later in the half and expanded it further in the second half.
Clinton never really got its offense in sync.
“Part of it is we’ve got a couple of guys trying to do too much,” Shovlain said. “We don’t have anyone, who by himself can step out and dominate. We have to have 12 goings the same direction.”
Ellsworth’s defensive effort deserved some credit, too.
“At first, they were doing what they wanted,” Muilenburg said. “We had to turn it up a notch. We tried to speed them up and get them out of their offense a bit — at least not let them get the shots they wanted. Once we got them out of their element, it kind of opened doors.”
Despite the lackluster performance by his players, Shovlain did see a couple of things he liked in the second half.
“The bright spot to me was a kid we have been working with for two years — Dane Barun,” he said. “He did the things we have wanted him to do all year. He got to the glass and finished. He’s a 6-6 kid who is pretty quick and can be quick going to the basket. That (an eight-point performance) might be a catalyst for him.”
Shovlain also liked the contribution from sophomore Andrew Temperly.
“He works that hard in practice and gave it all he had,” Shovlain said.
Temperly is the only player from Clinton left on the team after freshman BJ Bostic left before the Iowa Central game for personal reasons.
Ellsworth, which leads the ICCAC Division II standings, impressed Shovlain.
“From what I’ve seen, they’ve got the best team in the league,” Shovlain said, “but we haven’t seen Iowa Lakes.”
The Cougars get their chance to do that Saturday when they travel to Estherville to face the ninth-ranked Lakers, who are 6-1 in conference play.
ELLSWORTH 77, CLINTON CC 54
ELLSWORTH (12-6, 4-0) — Malcolm Canada 4 0-0 8, David Weathers 3 1-1 7, Antone Moore 1 0-0 3, Jared Fulks 4 0-0 10, Derrell Lamb 3 1-2 7, Greg Curtis 2 0-0 4, Abrie Anderson 4 0-0 11, Ivan Milin 1 0-0 2, Tonnie Collier 3 1-2 7, DaQuan Moore 0 2-2 2, Gerrardo Ibarra 1 0-0 2, Darrell Brown 2 2-2 6, Dwayne Haley 2 0-1 4, Yuriy Ikovlev 0 0-0 0, EJ Williams 2 0-0 4. Totals 32 7-10 77.
CLINTON (5-12, 1-5) — Virshaun Grant 1 0-0 2, Richard Hurt 0 2-2 2, Xzavion Jones 2 0-0 4, James Randolph 7 1-2 15, Charles Pemberton 3 0-0 6, Dione Blyden 2 0-0 4, Kimani Stevens 0 0-0 0, Andrew Temperly 1 0-0 2, Dane Barun 4 0-0 8, BeeJay Caleb 4 2-2 10. Totals 24 5-6 54.
Halftime — Ellsworth 42, Clinton 27. 3-point goals — Ellsworth 6 (Anderson 3, Fulks 2, A. Moore); Clinton 1 (Blyden). Total fouls — Ellsworth 7, Clinton 11. Fouled out — None.