BAXTER — It took the Baxter boys basketball team awhile to break free of Colfax-Mingo on Feb. 4. But once the Bolts took control, they never looked back during a 52-37 non-conference home win over the Tigerhawks.
Will Clapper had 26 points and 11 rebounds on his Senior Night, and the Bolts outscored Colfax-Mingo 22-7 in the final frame to win and improve to 8-9 on the season.
“He did it the Will way. Once he figured out what he could, he took it to the rim,” Baxter coach Zach Hasselbrink said.
“He’s an unstoppable guy when he gets to the right spots.”
No other Baxter player reached double-figures but Carter Nelsen scored eight points and pulled down 11 rebounds and Cole Damman dished out five assists.
Each team shut down the other’s best guard.
Damman came into the game averaging 12.8 points per game for Baxter but was held to only two points on the night. He took three shots but his one bucket came during a 14-4 Baxter run in the fourth.
“He’s the engine that makes them go,” Colfax-Mingo coach Mark Rague said. “We tried to take away their strengths, and he’s one of those guys we tried to take away. Unfortunately, we only took that away and (Clapper) hurt us all night.”
Colfax-Mingo’s Brady Berkey entered the contest averaging 20.8 points per game but scored just four points. He did finish with seven rebounds and eight assists.
“We have done a good job at that end of the floor all season,” Hasselbrink said. “We just made sure we knew where he was at all times. Our guys did a good job taking him out of the game.”
Colfax-Mingo tried to take away Clapper inside, but the Bolt senior was 13-of-19 from the floor. He scored six points in the first quarter, and had eight in each of the final two frames.
“Our gameplan is always inside-out. Carter and I work hard in there,” Clapper said. “Tonight, I felt like I could dominate down there so I just tried to do what I could to help us win. It was a great Senior Night.”
Baxter had a different starting lineup for Senior Night as Dalton Heer, Derrick Klemme, Tyler Titus, Matthew Grimes and Ian Thomson all began the game on the floor for the Bolts.
Colfax-Mingo led 5-0 early and went up 8-2 on a 3-pointer by Zarek Hill, who led the Tigerhawks with 22 points and four steals.
The Tigerhawks (4-16) led 14-10 after one quarter and held a 22-21 lead at halftime. Hill hit another trey to put his team up 19-14, but Baxter got a layup from Titus and a putback by Clapper to close the gap to one at the break.
Neither team led by more than three in the third quarter and the game was tied three different times. Clapper’s putback gave the Bolts (8-9) a 32-30 advantage after three quarters.
“We tried to take him away. He got a couple easy ones, but he navigated guys all night. He’s a very skilled big kid,” Rague said of Clapper.
Rory Heer put the Bolts up six early in the fourth after a 3-pointer and a free throw. His putback a little bit later kept the lead at eight and then Damman’s only bucket of the night was an and one that extended the lead to 10.
Baxter scored 12 of the final 15 points in the game. The only Colfax-Mingo points came on a 3-pointer by Hill.
“For us, it’s like a heavyweight fight. We threw punches, but they threw more in that fourth quarter,” Rague said.
Only Clapper and Hill reached double-figures in the game.
Jacob Nichols tallied nine points and 10 rebounds for the Tigerhawks.
Brendyn Padget had five points and four boards and Heer scored six points and grabbed three rebounds for the Bolts.