Clippers bounce back as they overpower the Rockets

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Zentner and Whitehead lead the senior dominated Clippers to victory

LOWELLVILLE, OHIO (WKBN) – Behind the solid play of senior guards Hunter Zentner and Sean Whitehead, the Columbiana Clippers overwhelmed the Lowellville Rockets Tuesday night 60-38 in non-conference action.  The win improves the Clippers to 12-3 on the year while the Rockets drop to 6-8 on the season.

“It’s a huge game for tournament time,” senior Hunter Zentner remarked.  “We only get 22 (games) and I’m a senior so you have to come out and play hard every night.  For the past four years, we have not been that good.  This year we have the seniors, we have experience and we are playing great.”

Zentner would score a team-high 15 with 5 rebounds while Whitehead would tally 12 points and 5 caroms.  Matthew Mazei would lead the Clippers on the boards with 8 rebounds on the night.

“We have multiple guys that can handle the basketball, and that comes from all the hard work in the off-season” Clippers coach Todd Johnson said.  “Them putting in the extra work the extra drills, ball handling, everything to get prepared for this year.”

The Clippers jumped on the Rockets right from the tip-off as they raced out to an early 9-1 lead before the Rockets scored a basket from Cole Bunofsky with 4:35 remaining in the opening quarter.  The Clippers would hold a 17-8 lead at the end of the period.

“We had a sour taste in our mouths from the last game against Wellsville and we wanted to come out here and prove a point that we can bounce back,” Zentner said of the importance of the win following a loss to Wellsville last Friday.

“As Hunter said, the kids had a sour taste in their mouth about letting one get away at Wellsville, but we were excited and ready to go with the challenge at Lowellville,” Johnson confirmed.  “Lowellville is a young team, they are huge and they are going to be a good team for years to come.  So it was a good win for us.”

The Clippers began the second quarter with a 7-3 run to lead 22-11 at the 6:10 mark of the stanza.  After the Rockets had closed the deficit down to just 26-18, the Clippers responded with an 8-0 to finish the second quarter and possess a 16-point, 34-18 at the intermission.

The Clippers continued to pull away from the Rockets in the third quarter as they built a 20-point advantage just a minute into the half.  But once again the Rockets whittled away at the deficit as they responded with an 8-0 run to make it 38-26 following a basket by John Loshuk.  However, the Clippers were unfazed as they closed the quarter with an 8-2 of their own to hold a 46-28 lead at the end of the third period.

“We gave up two layups without boxing out, and it’s little things like that I’m hoping in time that with these kids getting the experience we can clean up.  There are just little things like that and then it ballons again,” Rockets coach Matt Olson explained the struggles of his team.

The Clippers would open up a game-high 25-point advantage midway through the fourth quarter as they built a commanding 58-33 lead.  But the Rockets finished strong as they ended the game with a 5-2 run to reach the 60-38 final score.

The Rockets were led by Cole Bunofsky on the night with 11 points, including three treys.  Brady Bunofsky and Anthony Lucente would each grab 5 rebounds to lead the Rockets on the boards.

“It’s been a bit of a roller-coaster ride with this group,” Olson admitted about the young Rockets team.  “We have had a couple of good wins then we come back and have our ups and downs.  We are just struggling on offense and teams are recognizing that.  We are not shooting it good right now.  You’re not going to win many games scoring just 38 points.”

The Clippers will return to the court this Friday when they host EOAC league foe United.  The Rockets will try to bounce back when they play at Mineral Ridge this Friday in MVAC play.

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