Balder, Hildebrand lead Clippers past Colon in district final
Martin girls’ basketball coach Doug MacVean knew what it felt like to hoist the district championship trophy, having done so multiple times earlier in his tenure with the Clippers.
None of his current players had shared in that experience, as that was before their time on the squad.
That’s what made what happened at Climax-Scotts High School on Friday, March 2, so special for MacVean and his team.
Overcoming a bit of a slow start, the Clippers pulled away for the 57-36 victory over Colon in a Class D district final to earn the championship.
“All of the district titles are special, but this is a first for every player on this team,” MacVean said. “I believe the first one for a player will always stand out.”
The first quarter saw the teams match each other point for point, with the stanza ending in an 11-11 deadlock.
It wasn’t exactly the way MacVean had been hoping to open the game.
“It was nerves that got us a little bit, and I think that led to a slow start,” he said.
Given its youthful makeup—only one senior as compared to five sophomores—the Clippers have struggled with consistency at times this season.
“We’ve been up and down this year and it has been entirely from an energy and effort standpoint,” MacVean said. “The last couple weeks we have been playing with more energy, which allows us to win games.”
And no Clipper showed more energy than the team’s lone senior, Breanna Balder.
Scoring eight points in the second quarter, Balder helped Martin outscore Colon 21-4 in the second quarter to take a 32-15 halftime lead.
(Balder’s) our lone senior and she has had a lot to do with that energy level on the floor,” MacVean said. “She knows that the next time we lose, it’s her last game and she wants to make it last as long as possible.
“She helped us snap out of (the slow start) in the second quarter and we really rolled from there.”
Balder finished with 20 points, matching teammate Jaclyn Hildebrand for game-high honors as the pair combined to outscore the entire Colon roster.
“Those two were just extremely focused all night and gave a lot of themselves to get the job done,” MacVean said.
Faith Guritz and Kiaya Warner added seven points each, with Freddie Elkins chipping in with three to round out Martin’s scoring.
“I’m just really glad for the girls and that they got to experience winning a district title,” MacVean said. “I hope it fuels them to want some more in the future.”
Martin reached the district finals thanks to a 36-31 win over host Climax-Scotts in the semifinals.
That game also saw Martin start slow, trailing 8-4 after one quarter and 14-13 at halftime.
But a 10-3 edge in the third quarter got the Clippers back on track.
Guritz scored a team-best 14 points, with Hildebrand going for eight.
“I’m glad we were able to overcome the adversity and get settled back into our game and play like we can play,” MacVean said.