WESTFIELD TWP. — It’s hard to stop a polar bear, especially a physical one with a silky-smooth jumper.
Saturday afternoon, Cloverleaf’s Marissa Fowls channeled her inner-Arctic beast by jumping into frigid water at the inaugural Chippewa Lake Lions Club Polar Bear Run and Jump.
Five hours later, the senior was a beast on the basketball court, feasting on the Highland Hornets during a 60-43 Colts victory.
Fowls scored 20 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and almost single-handedly turned the Suburban League game into a blowout by halftime. Toss in 13 points and 15 rebounds from center Katie Simpson and the Hornets (2-14, 2-8) had no answer inside.
It was Fowls, however, who gave the saying, “Ice in her veins,” new meaning.
“I think it was a bonus because I played my best game today,” Fowls quipped about the polar plunge. “That was the first time I’ve ever done it and it was very cold. It was hard to explain. My body went numb. It was crazy.”
With that said, will it become a permanent part of Fowls’ pregame routine?
“My dad said we should, but it’s too cold for that,” she said with a sheepish grin.
Few would have blinked an eye if Fowls had started the game slowly after such a frigid experience. Instead, she was red hot, scoring 14 points and snaring eight boards to propel Cloverleaf (10-6, 7-3) to a 38-17 halftime lead.
Fowls canned 7-of-11 shots from the floor, including a pair of pretty 15-foot jumpers, and helped the Colts’ interior defense cut off penetrating lanes for Highland leading scorers Karissa Steffas (16 points, 5 assists) and Olivia Petek (14 points).
“In the first half, we really played like a team. We were passing the ball really well and making easy layups,” Fowls said. “We played well, but not to our potential like we should have. The score shouldn’t have been 60-43. It should have been 60-20.”
It wasn’t thanks to a rough 5-of-27 shooting performance in the second half, but Simpson stepped up to keep pesky Highland at bay.
The All-Gazette junior didn’t make a field goal over the final 23 minutes. She made up for it by grabbing 13 second-half rebounds and consistently beating defenders off the dribble, which translated into a 9-of-16 showing at the free throw line.
“We got into the right mindset,” Simpson said. “As a team, we played really well. At times, we got a little selfish, but for the most part we were able to get over it.”
Senior point guard Alaina Jordan was outstanding once again for Cloverleaf with seven points, six rebounds, six assists and two steals. Bench players Adrea Baughman and Morgan Siegler combined for 13 points and seven rebounds, which proved big considering Highland paid special attention to 3-point specialist Shelby Dearth (3 points, 1-of-11 shooting).
The Hornets received a strong all-around night from sophomore forward Haley Roddy, who had eight points and 12 rebounds, but couldn’t stop Simpson or Fowls inside despite mixing 1-3-1 and man-to-man defenses.
Cloverleaf shot 15-of-32 from the floor and forced 16 turnovers in the first half.
“I’m sick of offense right now,” Highland coach Cassie Seth said. “Everything this year that has happened negatively to us has been on the defensive end. You can’t give up 19 points in both quarters of a half and expect to be in a good position going into halftime.
“We won the second half 26-22. Twenty-two points, I’m fine with that. When you give up 38, there’s a problem because you want to (allow) 38 in ballgames.”
Jordan swished a 30-foot shot to beat the halftime buzzer.
• Wearing a mock professional wrestling outfit, Cloverleaf junior varsity coach Lance Price also participated at the Chippewa Lake Lions Club Polar Bear Run and Jump. His basketball team beat Norwayne 47-41 behind 15 points from Emily Civitollo.
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.