Clinton has been a traditional punching bag for the McFarland High School boys basketball team, which entered the Dec. 6 Rock Valley Conference game with eight wins over the Cougars dating back to 2013.
Yet, head coach Jeff Meinholdt made sure his team didn’t take Clinton too lightly.
“My message was: Nothing is given to you, you must earn it,” Meinholdt said after the Spartans blasted the host Cougars 87-23 to improve to 2-0 in the league.
McFarland, which won its first Rock Valley game earlier in the week against Jefferson, took a 48-15 halftime lead against the Cougars. The lead widened in the second half as Clinton managed only three field goals and 1-of-3 free throws for eight points. Meanwhile, the Spartans frustrated overmatched Clinton with easy layups and rebounds.
While the win was easy from the beginning, Meinholdt said the game allowed the Spartans to make some adjustments on their half-court defense by forcing turnovers by clogging up the passing lanes and coercing the Cougars to make a lot of bad passes.
Junior Jackson Werwinski led McFarland with 20 points including two shots from the 3-point arc. Meinholdt said the 6-foot-2 guard has become a major part of the team.
“Last year, he gained experience as a first-time varsity player,” Meinholdt said. “This year, he is ready to roll and he has stepped in as a leader. He loves to play basketball and gets his teammates involved in the game.”
Junior Blake Kes had 18 points, sophomore Zach Nichols scored 14 and junior Pete Pavelec hit three shots from 3-point territory and contributed 13 points.
The Spartans made a total of nine threes and shot 22-of-36 from the free throw line.
Junior Carter Klein led Clinton with 10 points.
Meinholdt said he was happy to see the Spartans win their first two conference games of the season, but they can’t take any of their league opponents lightly.
“On any given night, you don’t know what’s going to happen, and we have to keep playing our best basketball every game,” Meinholdt said.
McFarland travels to Big Foot on Thursday, Dec. 12, for another Rock Valley Conference battle. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.
Spartans 67, Jefferson 57
Werwinski had 25 points to lead the McFarland High School boys basketball team to a 67-57 road victory over Rock Valley Conference foe Jefferson on Dec. 3.
The Spartans took a 39-30 lead into the locker room and held back the Eagles in the second half to win their first league contest of the season.
Meinholdt said Jefferson is never an easy place to play, but his players came prepared.
“Our kids came in and had a great, no-quit attitude and they got after Jefferson,” Meinholdt said. “I think they wore them down by the second half and took control of the game.”
Kes added 18 points, as both he and Werwinski each sank two of the team’s six 3-pointers. Ethan Nichols ended with 10 points, and Pavalec had nine.
James Monogue led Jefferson with 22 points, and Caleb Stelse had 13. Both teams went to the foul line 16 times with McFarland making nine and Jefferson 12.