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Clippers put on rebounding clinic to win first title since 1990

Board of education

AMBOY – The tape of Thursday's 1A Amboy Regional championship game will have historical value to those in Amboy.

Especially after the Clippers won their first girls basketball regional crown since 1990 with a 37-28 win over Erie.

The tape will also serve as an educational tool for coach Mike McCracken. The key lesson: rebounding.

Amboy dominated the boards, holding a 39-19 advantage, with the most telling stat coming on the offensive glass. The Clippers had 16 offensive rebounds to Erie's three. All three of Erie's offensive rebounds came after the 6 minute, 33 second mark of the fourth quarter.

That led to second-chance opportunity heaven for Amboy (20-6). The Clippers scored 18 second-chance points to only three for Erie (20-10).

"We talked after the game that the second-chance points were the difference in the game," Erie coach Brian Howell said. "We box out and don't allow those 16 or 18 points, we win the game."

"It was all about going as hard as we could," Kaitlyn Liebing said. "It's so important that we get second-chance points, and so we focus on getting into position to make a play."

Liebing had nine rebounds, with four of them coming off the offensive end.

The Clippers took control of the game in the third quarter by going on a 10-2 run that put them up 25-12.

Key in that mix was Elizabeth Ortgiesen, who had three baskets. Two of the baskets were putbacks off a missed shot by a teammate. The third came after Madeline Ely pulled down a rebound off a missed shot by Micaela McCoy.

Ortgiesen also had an assist on a basket by Leibing during the run. Ortgiesen finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.

"Elizabeth played the game of her life tonight," Amboy coach Mike McCracken said. "After she came out during the third quarter, I told she can never play slow again. She was playing so fast out there that now we have to see that all of the time."

Erie's Bailee Classen seemed to end the run with a 3-pointer with 3:08 left in the quarter. That made it 25-15.

Amboy freshman Delaney Wilhelm provided the dagger by scoring on the last three possessions of the quarter to put Amboy up 31-15.

"The third quarter was really important for us," Ortgiesen said. "They had had big third quarters in both the first two games. We didn't want them to do the same again. We wanted to take control.

"This means so much to us. We've been wanting to do this for so many years, and the fans were really behind us. We're never going to forget this night."

Points were hard to come by for the Cardinals the entire night. They went a stretch of 8 minutes, 26 seconds without scoring in the first half. That allowed Amboy to build a 13-7 lead.

Courtney Cobert broke the drought with a 3-pointer with 1:44 left in the first quarter to make it 13-10.

"We had a few 3-pointers early in the game that rimmed out," Howell said. "We make a couple of those, and things are a little different.

"But, I thought we let them set the pace of the game. We got stuck in the half-court, when we are better off getting out and running. We saw that a little in the fourth quarter, but we just were not aggressive enough most of the night."

Stopping the Cobert sisters was the main priority of the Amboy defense. The 2-3 zone seemed to make things difficult for both.

Rachel Cobert finished with 11 points and nine rebounds. Courtney Cobert had six points before fouling out late in the fourth quarter.

"We just wanted to make things difficult for both Cobert girls whenever they got the ball," McCracken said. "I think we did that, and that played a big part in how this game played out."

Amboy will play either Dakota or Rockford Christian life in the Forreston Sectional semifinal at 6 p.m. Monday. Dakota and Rockford Christian Life play tonight.

Star of the game: Elizabeth Ortgiesen, Amboy, 10 points, 7 rebounds

Key performers: Rachel Cobert, Erie, 11 points, 9 rebounds; Delaney Wilhelm, Amboy 11 points, 6 steals

Up next: 1A Forreston Sectional semifinal, Amboy vs. Dakota or Rockford Christian Life, 6 p.m. Monday

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