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Thursday, 14 November 2013 15:23

Clinton girls basketball relies on dynamic duo

Written by 
 Mallory Niemann, left, and Megan Lantz lead Clinton as it tries to dethrone Brodhead in the Rock Valley South. Mallory Niemann, left, and Megan Lantz lead Clinton as it tries to dethrone Brodhead in the Rock Valley South. Terry Mayer/staff

STATELINE NEWS -- They don’t wear masks or fight crime. And they’re definitely not mysterious figures to opponents in the Rock Valley Conference.

Read the current edition here: http://www.server-jbmultimedia.net/CSI-StatelineNewsSundayHowever, stopping Clinton High School’s girls basketball dynamic duo of point guard Megan Lantz and forward Mallory Niemann presents double the trouble for foes.

Lantz led the Cougars and the league with her 17.5 scoring average, while Niemann chipped in 13.2 as Mike Powers’ squad finished behind Brodhead in the loop race and 18-6 overall, three of those defeats coming against the Cardinals.

As for Lantz and Niemann, their individual talents aside, it’s their ability to play off each other so well that causes defenses fits.

“Megan feels more confident shooting from the outside because she knows if she misses that Mallory or one of our other inside players are going to get the rebound,” Powers said. “So there is a trust there. They have played with each other so much in high school and AAU … they can just give a look or a nod and the other knows what is coming..”

Lantz and Niemann agreed that a sixth sense helps them on the court.

“Megan and I always know where we are on the court and can somewhat anticipate each other’s next moves,” the 5-foot-10 Niemann said. “Megan and I have been playing with each other constantly over the years. Megan trusts me on the inside, and I know I can trust her on the perimeter.”

“I always know where Mallory is going to be,” said the 5-5 Lantz. “We know each other’s moves. We know when to pass and when not to pass. I just try to help Mallory get her points when needed.”

Lantz has been an all-conference first-team choice the last two years and Niemann all three seasons, but they know working hard never ends.

“I handle the ball well and I have good range beyond the arc,” said Lantz, a Marian University recruit. “I don’t use my left hand as much as I should, but (I’m) getting better.

I’ve improved on my defense a lot. I went from guarding just a guard to guarding their best player. I want to improve on getting quicker moves.”

“My strengths are having a feel for the ball and rebounding,” Niemann said. “I’ve improved my dribbling, my outside shot and my offensive moves. I know that dribbling and shooting are areas I can continue to improve on.”

Powers, entering his fifth season, knows he has two gems.

“Megan has improved her defense greatly since her freshman year,” Powers said. “She is one of our best defenders and regularly requests to defend the other team’s best guard. She went from 43 steals her freshman year to 83 steals last year. It is not often that your point guard gets over a 100 rebounds in a season, but she has done that the last two years. Megan also has been much better in her shot selection the last two years and it shows in her shooting percentage. She shot over 53 percent from the floor last year.

“Mallory really has improved her outside shooting,” Power said. “She was not an outside threat at all her freshman year but worked on it and is now a bona fide threat from three-point range and can consistently knock down the 10- to 15-foot jumper. In essence, she made herself into a player who can play any of the five spots on the floor if we needed her to.”

Lantz’s strength is her passing.

“She makes passes that some college men’s players can’t make,” Powers said. “What I love about her is that she would rather pass than shoot, but she does take the open shot when it presents itself. She is confident when the game is on the line and made some amazing shots last year to either win a game or put us into overtime.”

Niemann excels around the rim.

“Rebounding is where Mallory shines,” Powers said. “She set the single-season rebounding record her sophomore year and is on pace to not only have 1,000 points for her career, but also a 1,000 rebounds. Whenever a ball goes up, she seems to have this internal computer that tracks the trajectory and knows which way the ball is going to come off the rim.”

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