MACEDONIA — Against her wishes, Madison Cluse took her place on a seat she dreaded to see.
To say she didn’t particularly care for such inactivity wouldn’t do her justice. She loathed it.
Therefore, when the junior guard/forward went back to the scorer’s table, she couldn’t have been more thrilled to escape her excruciating time in purgatory.
Once she rejoined her long lost teammates, though, Cluse and her pals may have felt like the biblical prophet Elijah.
That’s because the Knights were taken up to heaven in a whirlwind.
Thanks to Cluse’s clutch play down the stretch, the Nordonia girls basketball team earned its fourth straight victory after edging Aurora 56-51 Saturday at Hugh Griffith Memorial Gymnasium in Macedonia.
Cluse scored 10 of her team-high 18 points in the fourth quarter as the Knights improved to 10-1 this winter.
Such a performance was particularly sweet for Cluse, who was understandably impatient. That’s because the gifted teenager, who plans to continue her academic and basketball careers at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, had to sit on the bench for much of the third period.
Fortunately for the Knights, their do-it-all star showed no signs of cabin fever when she returned to the court.
“When I came into the fourth quarter, I said, ‘You can’t hold back,’” Cluse said. “‘Now is the time to push.’ I gave it everything I had.”
It’s a good bet some folks on South Bedford Road are grateful she did.
Cluse, who often runs the offense as a somewhat unconventional point guard, scored five consecutive points after the Greenmen rallied from a nine-point deficit to take a 44-39 lead.
Her final bucket of the afternoon, a floater off the dribble, gave Nordonia a 56-49 advantage with less than a minute left. Once that shot navigated its way through the strings, the Knights’ conquering of the reigning three-time Suburban League American Conference champions was officially complete.
“When Maddie got in foul trouble, she still stayed locked in,” Nordonia head coach Julie Buckler said.
She was locked in when her opponents had the ball too.
Cluse and two of her talented teammates, senior guard/forward Lizzie Imrie and junior guard Hallie Majoros, had a near impossible task of guarding someone who seems to have magical powers. That is especially true when a basketball is in her hands.
This sometimes superhuman young lady is the one and only Shyanne Sellers, Aurora’s two-time All-Ohio point guard.
Although Sellers scored a game-high 26 points, she had to work especially hard against Nordonia’s impressive trio. Of course, Cluse and her fellow co-rulers of the Knights’ fearsome triumvirate had to work too.
The unassuming 6-foot playmaker didn’t seem to mind, though.
“It’s definitely a big moment,” Cluse said of guarding Sellers. “She’s a great basketball player. I feel like I had to step up a little bit and everyone on the team stepped up also.”
Cluse has plenty of opportunities to excel, thanks to Nordonia’s surplus of riches. Imrie, who missed much of last season, seamlessly ran the Knights’ offense when Cluse took her brief but unwanted leave of absence.
Having a teammate with a jumper as pretty as Majoros’ shot doesn’t hurt either.
“It’s so fun,” Cluse said. “When you get to play with people who are good at basketball, it just makes the game so much more enjoyable.”
Other than a loss to Suburban League National Conference rival Stow-Munroe Falls earlier in the season, Nordonia has been a dominant force throughout the season.
To some people, at least. Cluse, on the other hand, may not be so convinced.
“We can definitely get better,” she said.
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.