Herald Staff Report
The player from down under did too much damage from far and away Wednesday night, putting an end to the men’s basketball season for Clinton Community College.
Ben Shellim, a 6-foot, 2-inch freshman guard from Melbourne, Australia, drained seven 3-point baskets and scored 26 points to lead the Lakers, ranked 11th in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II rankings, past the Cougars 71-56 in the first round of the regional tournament.
Richard Hurt matched Shellim from 3-point range and led the Cougars with 21 points in his final game for Clinton CC.
“Richard stepped up to the plate and shot the ball unbelievably,” Clinton coach Joe Shovlain said.
Hurt’s hot start in the second half helped the Cougars (8-20) get back into the game after a strong close had put the Lakers (24-6) ahead by 22 at halftime.
Hurt, a 6-0 sophomore from Davenport who scored just three points in the first half, opened the second half with a 3-point basket. Virshaun Grant scored on a drive to make it 39-22, and the Cougars kept chipping away. They scored eight of the next 11 points, pulling within 42-30 on a basket by Charles Pemberton.
Minutes later, Hurt buried two more 3s — and in between assisted on a layup by Xzavion Jones — during an 8-3 run as the Cougars got as close as eight points.
But Shellim made sure the Cougars got no closer.
“We got it down to eight, then the Australian kid just shot the hell out of the ball,” Shovlain said. “He got in a rhythm, and they set nice screens for him or he would dribble-drive, step back and hit a deep 3. He’s a good shooter. He kind of would keep us at bay.”
Shellim finished with 16 of 26 points in the second half
Ultimately, though, the wide gouge the Lakers opened in the first half was too much for the Cougars to overcome. Shellim did his part there, too. He connected on back-to-back 3s on each side of a James Randolph free throw for the Cougars that put the Lakers ahead 28-15.
Iowa Lakes closed the half on a 17-3 run and headed to the locker room with a 39-17 lead after Deondre Parks buried a 3-pointer at the buzzer. He scored 14 of his 19 points in the first half.
“We dug ourselves such a hole,” Shovlain said. “I think all we scored was putbacks in the first half.”
Shovlain said Iowa Lakes had Clinton scouted well and took away its top offensive threats. Jones finished with nine points, 5.8 below his average; Pemberton had eight, 3.6 below his average; and James Randolph, Clinton’s fourth-leading scorer on the year at 8.4, managed just the one free throw.
“They D’ed up Xzavion and double- and triple-teamed Charles, and (Pemberton and Randolph) didn’t have a chance to do anything.”
The final record showed an increase of two wins, and Shovlain indicated that that total might not even adequately represent the improvement made.
“We did take steps,” he said. “There were so many good teams in the conference. We made positive strides. Teams knew they had to be ready to play us.
“I can’t say enough about the five sophomores (Hurt, Pemberton, Grant, Dane Barun and Andrew Temperly). We made huge strides, and the sophomores were a big part of that. They will be hard to replace. With that being said, he have a very good nucleus coming back, and, if we get the right pieces, we’re going to get even better.”
IOWA LAKES 71, CLINTON 56
CLINTON (8-20) — James Randolph 0 1-2 1, Charles Pemberton 2 4-5 8, Xzavion Jones 3 2-2 9, Virshaun Grant 2 1-1 5, Richard Hurt 7 0-0 21, Kimani Stevens 5 2-2 12, Dane Barun 0 0-0 0, BeeJay Caleb 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 10-12 56.
IOWA LAKES (24-6) — Colton Neff 5 2-4 12, Josh Schaben 1 1-1 3, Ben Shellim 9 1-2 26, Deondre Parks 7 2-4 19, Kevin Larson 0 2-2 2, Diamontae McKinley 2 0-0 4, Tate Harmon 1 0-0 3, Kelly Madison 0 0-0 0, Mark Miedema 1 0-0 2. Totals 26 8-12 71.
Halftime — Iowa Lakes 39, Clinton 17. 3-point goals — Clinton 8 (Hurt 7, Jones 1); Iowa Lakes 11 (Shellim 7, Park 3, Harmon). Total fouls — Clinton 13, Iowa Lakes 10. Fouled out — None.