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  • Val T.

1A, No. 2 Caston rallies from 14 down, tops Clinton Central to stay unbeaten

Zimpleman, Scales score in double figures, Harness scores game-winning basket with 20 seconds left after steal


Sports Editor, RTC

MICHIGANTOWN — Being undefeated and ranked No. 2 in Class 1A might have gotten the Caston girls basketball team some recognition.

Bailey Harness

In the fourth quarter against host Clinton Central Tuesday, they drew from within to finish off perhaps their most impressive comeback and show why they received that recognition.

Addison Zimpleman scored 13 points, Isabel Scales added 12, and Bailey Harness scored after a steal and an off-balance layup in transition with 20 seconds left to lead Caston to a 47-46 over a Lady Bulldog team that came in ranked No. 11 in Class 1A.

Senior post player Sara Parkison led Clinton Central, whose coach Don Helmick coached Caston from 2016-20, with 19 points. Freshman point guard Carly Davison scored nine before fouling out with 3.2 seconds left.

Caston improved to 16-0. Clinton Central had their eight-game winning streak snapped and fell to 12-3.

Caston made as many free throws as Clinton Central attempted (14). Also, Caston had zero turnovers in the fourth quarter while Clinton Central committed seven, including four in the final 25 seconds.

“I don’t even know about it,” Caston coach Josh Douglass said, speaking of a narrow focus. “Next game.”

In terms of margin, this was not Caston’s largest comeback of the season. They trailed Rochester by 20 before coming back to win 38-34 on Nov. 5.

But they did trail by 14 points in the second quarter on the road against a team that had not lost in over six weeks, and they still trailed 44-36 with 4:02 left before finishing on an 11-2 run before a madcap final 33.7 seconds.

After a Caston timeout following a Macee Hinderlider putback that cut the deficit to 46-45, Clinton Central worked a give-and-go between Erika Robbins and Kortney Surber to bring the ball past halfcourt. Surber passed to Davison, who tried to advance the ball to the elbow, but Harness poked it out of her hands and retrieved it and raced to the other end with Surber in pursuit before scoring off the glass with her right hand while fading to the left.

“I was just hoping that it was going in,” Harness said. “When she came up beside me, I had to switch my hands, so I had to shoot right-handed on the left-handed side, so I was really hoping and praying that was going in.”

Clinton Central quickly advanced the ball to the frontcourt, but Robbins’ pass to Sam Adams was at her feet and resulted in a pile-up of bodies in the paint and a held ball between Mollenkopf and Robbins with 8.6 seconds left.

Clinton Central gained possession per the arrow and called timeout.

Surber’s inbounds pass underneath her team’s basket intended for Parkinson appeared to hit Scales in the back of the leg. Mollenkopf fell on it and earned another held ball. This time, Caston had the arrow with 5.5 seconds left.

Scales was fouled with 4.9 seconds left on the inbounds, but she missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Surber rebounded and called timeout with 4.7 seconds left.

Zimpleman then stole the inbounds pass and was fouled by Davison one step in front of halfcourt with 3.2 seconds left. She missed both free throws, and Surber rebounded, and Clinton Central used their final timeout with 2.8 seconds left.

Mollenkopf then stole the next inbounds pass from Bridgette Royer and held the ball as time expired.

“Gritty, grinder, proud,” Douglass said when asked to describe the win. “I love the heart of our kids. Uncharacteristic for us to miss free throws like we did tonight. I tried everything. I tried encouraging them. I tried yelling at them. I was trying everything. That’s what I told them. We just didn’t hit the free throws.”

Said Harness: “We’re 16-0, but we can always do better.”

The rally from eight points down in the fourth quarter started with two Zimpleman free throws with 3:58 left. Scales hit two more from the line with 2:43 left.

Robbins missed the front end of a one-and-one with 2:33 left, and Zimpleman’s free throw at the 2:15 mark made it 44-41.

Scales missed a floater in the paint with 1:34 left, and Surber rebounded, but Robbins missed another one-and-one, and Adams fouled Scales in the back going for the rebound, Scales then knocked down two from the line with 1:22 left to make it 44-43.

Robbins atoned for her earlier misses and made two from the line with 59.1 seconds left.

On the ensuing possession, Mollenkopf missed an eight-footer short in the paint, but Hinderlider rebounded and hit a floater in the paint to get Caston back within one.

“It was fun and stressful at the end definitely because it got close, but also we battled,” Hinderlider said.

Already leading 11-9, Clinton Central went on a 15-3 run in the second quarter that forced Caston to abandon their 2-3 zone. The run included two Adams triples and a 3 from the left corner from Parkison. Douglass used two timeouts as the deficit reached 26-12, and buckets from Scales, Harness and Zimpleman got the Lady Comets back within 26-18 at halftime.

“We made some real good halftime adjustments to slow them down a little bit,” Douglass said. “I thought Addison came out and did a tremendous job on number 5 (Davison) in the second half and kept her out of the lane. That was a big key, keeping her out of the lane.”

Asked what it feels like to be 16-0, Hinderlider said it “honestly doesn’t feel like much.”

“It just feels like playing together as a team and really battling through each game and just like back to the old days when we all were together in sixth, seventh, eighth grade,” Hinderlider said. “We all play together, and it’s great.”

Caston 47, Clinton Central 46

CASTON (47) (16-0)

Macee Hinderlider 3 0-1 6, Isabel Scales 3 6-9 12, Addison Zimpleman 3 6-12 13, Kinzie Mollenkopf 4 0-0 8, Bailey Harness 3 2-3 8, Olivia Thomas 0 0-0 0, Annie Harsh 0 0-0 0

TEAM: 16 14-25 47


Carly Davison 4 0-1 9, Erika Robbins 2 2-4 7, Sam Adams 2 1-2 7, Kortney Surber 2 0-0 4, Sara Parkison 6 6-7 19, Abby Harris 0 0-0 0, Bridgette Royer 0 0-0 0

TEAM: 16 9-14 46

Three-point field goals:

Caston 1 (Zimpleman),

Clinton Central 5 (Adams 2, Parkison, Davison, Robbins)

Total fouls: Caston 14, Clinton Central 17

Fouled out: Davison (CC), :03.2, fourth

Turnovers: Caston 10, Clinton Central 18

Score by quarters

Caston 7 11 13 16 – 47

Clinton Central 9 17 11 9 – 46

JV: Clinton Central 29, Caston 15

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