While the Clipper varsity boys easily downed rival Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton 71-49 on Monday, their real foes last week were pathogenic particles of protein and nucleic acid some 600 times smaller than a grain of salt.
Pandemic protocol kept one senior Clipper off the court on Monday and threatened to do the same with another.
After the win, head coach Dan Fredrickson said that the Clippers planned to voluntarily go to distance learning on Wednesday since any positive test can shut the team down. But by then it was already too late. On Wednesday morning, the Clippers had no choice but to suspend the final three games of their regular season.
“We realized that sometimes we take games for granted; that we’re going to have all these games,” said Fredrickson. "But at some point, your career comes to an end. And sometimes your career can come to an end sooner than later, whether it be by an injury or whether it be by COVID.”
Eric Rohlfing scored the first the first basket on the Janesville floor. JWP answered it, but Rohlfing scored again, Ben Holden (above) put in a bucket after an Alex McCabe steal, and Isaac Mueller was Isaac Mueller when he stole and drove the floor for a layup to put the Clippers up 8-2.
It was a lead the Clippers would never relinquish.
Later in the half, Mueller popped in a two buckets from three-point territory, and Elijah Sullivan also scored from behind the arc for a trio of Cleveland three pointers in a row. McCabe pickpocketed again, and with a Holden spin cycle on the play, the Clipper were comfortably up front 25-9.
With another three by both Mueller and Sullivan, the Clippers led 34-18 at the break.
After a Rohlfing steal and assist, Holden scored the first bucket of the second half. JWP followed up with a pair of threes, but Mueller eventually canceled them, the Clippers added to their lead, and the B-Squad came in to put the finishing touches on the triumph.
Mueller led the effort with 26 points. With a double-double, Holden dumped in 20 points and towered 20 rebounds. He is now 22 short of a career 1000 rebounds. Rohlfing added 14 points, and Sullivan put in eight points. McCabe had three assists, six rebounds and three steals along with one point.
With other teams in the Valley Conference under quarantine, as planned before the season started, only first games played were used to determine final standings. The Clippers and Loyola were each 7-1, but as the Loyola beat Cleveland, the Crusaders won the Valley Conference East.
With losses to Cleveland and Loyola, St. Clair was officially 5-2 in the East. Without the contingency plan, Cleveland and St. Clair both had two losses, to each other and to Loyola. Loyola had three losses: to St. Clair, to Cleveland and to west side leader T/ML/GHEC.
T/ML/GHEC, officially 6-2 but—with losses to Cleveland, MCW and LCWM—8-3 before the backup plan, is scheduled to take on Loyola for the conference championship.
Whether the Clippers, in all or in part, can get back on the floor in time for playoffs is to be determined.
Cleveland 34 37 71
JWP 18 22 40
Points 71 (Ben Holden 20, Eric Rohlfing 14, Isaac Mueller 26, Elijah Sullivan 8, Alex McCabe 1, Carter Barto 2, Colin Krenik 3)
Assists 20 (Holden 3, Rohlfing 4, Mueller 6, Elijah Sullivan 3, McCabe 3, Gabriel Sullivan 1)
Rebounds 42 (Holden 20, Rohlfing 4, Mueller 2, Elijah Sullivan 5, McCabe 6, Lucas Walechka 2, Colin Krenik 1, Carter Barto 1, Gabriel Sullivan 1)
Steals 11 (Mueller 2, Elijah Sullivan 2, McCabe 3, Jackson Meyer 2, Kolby Gens 1, Barto 1)
Blocks 3 (Holden 1, Barto 1)
2FG 21-38 (55%)
3FG 8-22 (36%) (Holden 1, Mueller 5, Sullivan 2)
FT 5-14 (35%)
Eric Rohlfing dribbles to a JWP barrier.
Elijah Sullivan sprints down the JWP floor.
Isaac Mueller puts up a Cirque-du-Soleil layup.
Surrounded by blue, Alex McCabe leaps for a shot.