WATERLOO — Waterloo East’s Thanksgiving slumber may have lasted a day or two longer than the Trojans wished.
Shaking off an uneven first half, East rallied for a 49-46 non-conference girls’ basketball victory Monday over former Big 8 Conference rival Marshalltown at the Fred J. Miller Gymnasium.
Both teams struggled in the first half to get much going, and the Bobcats clung to a 19-16 edge at the break.
Looking to charge out of halftime, the Trojans called on senior Amanee Clark, who dished up 16 points and connected on four 3-point field goals.
Clark’s first triple began the game, but it was her third trey that sparked an East rally that resulted in a 18-5 run and saw the Trojans lead, 34-24, after three quarters.
“I’m a senior now, and I feel responsible for a lot of what goes on out here,” said Clark. “It is up to me to get us pumped up when we get down and get the intensity to pick up. I think that three to start the second half really got us going, and then I needed to make sure and step it up on defense as well.”
Clark traveled the court from end to end as she collected six steals and had three blocked shots to go along with her 16 points. Clark also nailed the game down with a pair of free throws late to build East’s lead to 49-45.
“We started to rock and roll on defense and made the free throws when we needed to,” said Clark. “I wasn’t nervous at all going to the line, but I knew there was still too much time left on the clock and we still had a lot of work to do.”
The win was good, but East coach William Muhammad said it was hard on his heart.
“Stress, stress, stress,” Muhammad said. “The one thing we talked about was that coach-to-coach-to-player communication, and we definitely need to clean that up. We need to make sure that the game flows easier and limit the other team with their second shot opportunities. Hey, my hat's off to Marshalltown: they came to play.”
Marshalltown quickly began to claw into the Trojans' 10-point lead in the fourth quarter and crawled to within a bucket, 36-34, with 4:14 remaining in the game.
But East’s Madison Whitson drove the lane and picked up a huge basket for the Trojans. Then senior Kerris Roberts grabbed a foul after a layup, making the three-point play and giving the home squad a 43-38 advantage.
Nia Crowley popped in a shot for a 47-43 lead, but the Bobcats answered quickly, closing their deficit to 47-45, before Clark drained her last two charity attempts.
“I was happy that we were able to hold on to the lead and hold them off, but I was not happy with all the fouls,” Muhammad said. “We just had too many of them and we have to clean that up as well.
"I think the Thanksgiving break threw us off a bit, but once we get back into it, I think we will be winning games by a little bit better margin. I thought the girls did a real good job at closing out the game tonight.”
East 49, Marshalltown 46
MARSHALLTOWN (46) — Erica Johnson 8 8-12 24, Kyra Feldman 2 2-2 6, Madison Finch 4 3-4 11, Priscila Vergara 0 1-2 1, Gabby Himes 2 0-1 4, Paige Wertzberger 0 0-2 0. Totals—6 14-23 46.
EAST (49) — Ellasa Horton 3 0-2 6, Kerris Roberts 2 5-9 9, Amanee Clark 4 4-4 16, Nia Crowley 3 2-3 8, Madison Whitson 2 0-2 4, Aaliyah Franklin 0 0-0 0, Key’Lajaha Jefferson-Putman 0 1-2 1, Jessica Hyke 1 0-0 2, Erion Gafeney 1 0-0 3. Totals—16 12-22 49.
Marshalltown 8 11 5 22—46
East 8 8 18 15—49
Three-point goals—Marshalltown 0, East 5 (Clark 4, Gafeney). Total fouls—Marshalltown 17, East 24. Fouled out—Johnson (M).