Clintondale boys basketball working hard to get better

By: Jason Carmel Davis | C&G Newspapers | Published January 24, 2020

 Clinton Township Clintondale’s Christian Hamilton rises up for a shot Jan. 21 in a victory against Madison Heights Madison.

Clinton Township Clintondale’s Christian Hamilton rises up for a shot Jan. 21 in a victory against Madison Heights Madison.

Photo by Sean Work

 Clinton Township Clintondale’s Liquory Hines takes a shot in a game earlier this season. The Dragons’ next game is against Port Huron High at 7 p.m. Jan. 31 on the road.

Clinton Township Clintondale’s Liquory Hines takes a shot in a game earlier this season. The Dragons’ next game is against Port Huron High at 7 p.m. Jan. 31 on the road.

Photo by Sean Work

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP — The team’s current record may not show it, but the Clinton Township Clintondale boys basketball team has improved over the first half of the season, according to coach Rob Townsend.

“The inexperience we showed early in the season is slowly disappearing,” said Townsend, whose team sat at 4-6 overall and 1-3 in the Macomb Area Conference Silver Division at press time. “If we keep the improvements going, I like where we’re headed.

“The one thing that hasn’t changed is how hard we play. I have five players out there playing hard no matter the score.”

The Dragons — who went 16-7 last season and finished second in the MAC Silver behind Madison Heights Madison — have played a pretty tough slate thus far. Clintondale has faced the top team in the MAC Gold, Silver and Bronze divisions. The team has also faced undefeated Catholic High School League squad Macomb Lutheran North.

Townsend admitted that the road has been tough, but the team knows where it stands.

“We need to face the best to be the best,” Townsend said. “(Playing this schedule) has sharpened our teamwork. Executing plays and breaking a press have improved, and our rebounding is much better. Playing quality teams does not allow you to make mistakes, because they’ll be exposed. We’ve learned from that.”

In-game areas have improved, but intangibles, mainly leadership, are a work in progress, Townsend said.

The team has just two players back from last year’s group. Clintondale has also lost four players for various reasons since the season started.

“It took some time for the players to find their roles,” Townsend said. “In addition to that, the personalities of our seniors are more introverted, lead-by-example types. I want them to be themselves and help their team improve.

“The biggest thing so far our leaders have done is continue to come to practice every day and work hard.”

The team has had its struggles, like averaging about 18 points less per game than last season, but has performed well in an area that Townsend stresses.

The Dragons have a defense ranked in the top 10 in the MAC in terms of points allowed per game.

“I think we’re playing at a slower pace, so that helps the numbers look better,” Townsend said. “But we’re also mixing up our defense more and rebounding to limit teams to one shot a possession.”

Staying in the race for the MAC Silver title is always a goal for Clintondale, but Townsend is focusing on other areas as the season goes along.

“Our goal is to continue to improve,” Townsend said. “We want to get better one day at a time so that we peak come playoff time or sneak into the MAC tournament and surprise some people.”

The Dragons’ next game is against Port Huron High at 7 p.m. Jan. 31 on the road.

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