ERIE – For three quarters, the Erie Cardinals lacked intensity on Monday. Then the switch went on for the last 8 minutes.
Unfortunately for the Cardinals, it was too little too late. The Amboy Clippers had already secured a Three Rivers North victory with a score of 36-20.
Amboy (14-5, 7-2 Three Rivers North) took advantage of Erie's rough first quarter and jumped out to the lead. Four different Clippers chipped in a basket a piece to give them a 9-2 lead.
Defensively, a 2-3 zone by Amboy forced the Cardinals (15-8, 5-4) into rushing shots.
"Well, first of all, they missed some wide-open shots," Amboy coach Mike McCracken said. "That helps when you play a 2-3 zone. We did a pretty good job of boxing out, getting out on them and rushing their shots a little bit. I'm a little greedy, though, and I wanted no good looks at all, and I think for the most part we did that."
Erie regained some footing heading into the second quarter. They cut the Amboy lead down to 11-7.
"We really didn't play with a sense of urgency," Erie coach Brian Howell said. "We didn't play hard. We didn't get into transition like we normally do. We walked the ball up the floor. You know, it was just one of those games we played terrible. Kind of chewed the girls out afterwards, and they know we can't play that way."
Luckily for the Clippers, they found an answer to the Cardinals's rally.
That answer was junior Kennedy Dinges. In the remaining 4 minutes of the half, the point guard had seven points, which was capped off with a three-point play. This gave the Clippers the momentum and a 20-11 lead at half.
"Last year, as a sophomore, I also started," Dinges said. "That has helped me to become a leader on the team. Being a point guard has also made that easier. I have a lot of good girls that back me up and support me."
"She really took charge," McCracken said, "and played a real smart game tonight."
After half, Amboy continued to build a lead, and it got as large as 26-11 with 2 1/2 minutes remaining in the third.
"I called a timeout and chewed them out," Howell said. "I called a 30-second timeout right before the end of the third. I got on their case about going hard, and getting a better effort. We laid into them, and they responded positively."
Sophomore Rachel Cobert responded with a pair of buckets to close out the quarter. The Cardinals trailed 26-17 at the end of three quarters.
A questionable charging foul on Amboy junior Kaitlyn Liebing ignited the gym, and the intensity picked up as the game took on a new physicality level.
"I thought it was a little rough with no calls, early," McCracken said. "That generally means its going to get rougher as the game went on. We caught a break with Courtney Cobert still being out. It was a good win for us."
The Cardinals did not turn this intensity into any points, as once again Dinges closed things out for the Clippers. She converted a trio of baskets in the final stanza to solidify the win for Amboy.
Rachel Cobert scored Erie's only three points of the fourth. The final bucket for the Cardinals fell with about 5 minutes left.
Star of the game: Kennedy Dinges, Amboy, 15 points, 4 rebounds, 4 steals.
Key performers: Rachel Cobert, Erie, 7 points, 4 rebounds; Kaitlyn Liebing, Amboy, 8 points, 8 rebounds.