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Girls basketball: Clippers struggle to deal with Prophets' pressure

PROPHETSTOWN – The pressure put on by the Prophets in the second half shut the door on the Amboy Clippers, as Prophetstown went on to secure the win 42-19 Thursday night. 

In a scrappy, get-after-it kind of game, senior Karlie Stafford led the way for the Prophets in the first half. She paced her team offensively, scoring all eight of her points in the first two quarters. 

"Karlie stepped up for us in the first half," Prophetstown coach Don Robinson said. "And that helped us get just enough of a lead, where if we got a few more breaks, we could maybe spread our offense."

Amboy (7-3, 3-1 Three Rivers North) hung around and only trailed 20-12 going into the half. Thhe Prophets (8-2, 4-0) cranked up the pressure on defense, which caused trouble for the Clippers.

"It was a lot of pressure," Amboy coach Mike McCracken said. "We withstood it pretty well in the first half, and they came out of it. Second half, they came out, they turned up the pressure, and we didn't handle the ball well."

That pressure was spearheaded by the full-court press, which led to deflections, loose balls, jump balls ... and bodies flying everywhere. Emotion toward the game was evident, as neither team wanted to be outhustled. 

"Coach Robinson just told us that we really needed to step up our game," Stafford said. "We needed to work hard in the third quarter, and we put on the full-court press." 

As a result, the Prophets started to pull away, as they held a steady 32-16 lead heading into the final quarter.

In the fourth, the pressure was lightened by the Prophets, and they took a new approach: controlling the ball.

Possession after possession, they settled into their offense, full of back-door cuts. Stafford and Clare Kramer were the centerpieces, and had numerous assists to their quick guards for layups. 

"Coach has always told us that those are big plays in the game," Stafford said. "We will need that in a big type of game. I saw them running open towards the hoop, and just tried to snap it back to them. They [Amboy] were getting frustrated by that."

Five baskets were scored using this tactic, and gave the Prophets more than enough insurance to seal the victory. 

"We needed all 10 girls to help us get this victory," Robinson said. "Amboy and us are grinders, and sometimes these games aren't pretty. We just had to hang in there, grind, and get after every loose ball."

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