High school girls basketball: Cluse breaks record, but Stow edges Nordonia
MACEDONIA — When the Nordonia and Stow-Munroe Falls girls basketball teams first met on Martin Luther King Day, the game was mostly about a memorial.
When the two teams met again Wednesday at the Hugh Griffin Memorial Gymnasium, it was about history.
Nordonia senior Madi Cluse needed 12 points to break Jen Arnold's school career scoring record of 1,267 points, and she finished with 21 points to become the Knights' all-time leading scorer.
"It feels good," Cluse said. "It was one of my goals this year to get that record, so it's good to finally get it."
In the final seconds, however, Cluse was denied a potential game-tying 3-pointer by one of her best friends. Stow forward Bella Adams blocked Cluse's final shot, allowing the Bulldogs to escape with a 49-46 win.
It was the 11th consecutive win for Stow (12-1).
Cluse nearly led the Knights (11-7) back from a 13-point deficit with less than five minutes left. Stow coach Bob Podges said his team was fortunate to escape.
"I told the girls we were good for three quarters and lucky in the fourth quarter," Podges said. "We were both good and lucky tonight. Madi is a great player and she did what she needed to do when her team needed her."
"We did some good things tonight," Nordonia coach Julie Buckler said. "Hallie [Majoros] did a great job on Lilee [Carlson] tonight, keeping her to only six points. What I didn't like was we gave up a lot of offensive rebounds."
Early on, Cluse was on as Stow's defense looked a bit slow to rotate at times.
Cluse's nine points helped Nordonia finish the first quarter on an 11-4 run and with a 14-11 lead.
As was the case in the first game, Nordonia's defense focused on Carlson. The Knights double-teamed her every time she got the ball inside the 3-point line.
"I thought the defense Nordonia tied to put on Lilee was something we should expect," Podges said. "In that case, our other pieces need to step up, and they did tonight."
That effort was led by Stow forward Kristin Chmielewski. "Chewy" showed off every area of her game, from making 3-pointers to working low on the boards.
Chmielewski finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots.
"Kristin played an excellent game offensively and defensively," Podges said. "We worked a lot on her shot yesterday, fixed some things and she responded."
Chmielewski helped Stow surge into the lead with a 6-0 run to start the second quarter. Stow, which never trailed again, led 25-19 at the half.
The Bulldogs then came out firing in the third quarter with an 8-2 run before Majoros found her range. Majoros made a 3-pointer and then converted a four-point play to cut the lead to 32-29.
After being shut out in the first game, Majoros had 10 points for the Knights.
Stow answered again, as freshman guard Anna Hurst asserted herself. Hurst finished with 11 points and eight rebounds.
"Anna played an excellent game tonight," Podges said. "She's only a freshman, but really learning how to play well at this level."
Stow equaled its largest lead of the game with a 43-30 advantage at the end of three quarters.
The big moment for Cluse came off a layup with about six minutes left, cutting Stow's lead to 44-36. Buckler called a timeout to let Cluse enjoy the moment.
But Stow answered again. A 3-pointer by Faith Kyer made it 49-36 with just under five minutes left.
At that moment, Cluse went into overdrive. She made two 3-pointers from WNBA range to key a 10-0 Knights run, which cut the lead to a 49-46 with under a minute left.
"She hit those bombs from at least five or six feet beyond the 3-point line," Podges said.
"I had to take those shots, because I knew that was all I was going to get," Cluse said.
"It's almost like she shoots better out there, which is crazy," Buckler said. "Madi was able to hit some shots for us and we were able to turn up the defensive intensity."
Stow committed more turnovers in the final three minutes than it did in the first three quarters. A jump ball call with 18 seconds left gave the Knights the ball with a chance to tie it.
After Stow committed two fouls, Cluse inbounded the ball with 8.9 seconds left and got it back, but her 3-point attempt from the left elbow was cleanly blocked by Adams.
Adams finished with six points, four rebounds and two blocks, as she spent most of the game defending her long-time AAU teammate.
"There was a lot of pressure to make sure Madi didn't get a lot of 3-pointers and didn't get any drives," Adams said. "I played up on her all night. I got to the ball and was able to block it."
"It was a good block," Cluse said. "I loved playing against Bella because we play with each other on AAU. We're friendly rivals during high school season."
Adams, Cluse and Carlson embraced after the game, as they reflected on their first high school game against each other. Adams' block preserved an 8-0 record for Stow against Nordonia during Cluse's tenure.