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Clinton machine keeps rolling with latest blowout

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It was a few minutes before Clinton’s girls basketball team was set to tip off against South Bronx, and junior guard Linda Castro was not in the pregame huddle. Instead Castro was running laps on the elevated track overlooking the Lady Governors’ home court as she tried to coax her injured ankle into game shape.

And then when tip-off came and Castro was still saddled to the bench, one had to wonder how Clinton was going to fare against South Bronx without one of its top players.

Wonder no more as the tandem of Jordan Angeli and Chanel Robinson simply overwhelmed the overmatched Phoenix by combining for 38 points, and the Lady Governors rolled to a 64-12 victory to up their season record to 4-1.

Clinton opened some eyes earlier this month when it went on the road and took down perennial power Bronx Science. Since then, the Lady Governors have posted three straight wins, two of them coming via the blowout variety, including a 74-25 whipping of Walton prior to the South Bronx win.

“We’re getting our bearings now,” Clinton head coach Elonza Simon said. “We started off kind of slow because we didn’t have any scrimmages before the season. But now, by playing more games, we’re getting that experience, and we’re getting in the flow.”

Simon was referring to Clinton’s opening-day loss to unbeaten Mott Haven. But since then, there might not be a hotter team in the borough than the Lady Governors. The win over South Bronx started slow as the first quarter saw just 12 total points scored. The good news for Clinton was that it scored all of them.

And as the second quarter got underway, so did the rout.

Robinson scored 10 of the Lady Governors’ next 14 points, and when Genesis Rodriguez drained a three-pointer and Mallelys Reyes Camacho added a jumper with just over a minute left before halftime, Clinton’s lead was 31-0 and, well, Castro and her injured ankle were no longer a concern.

The lead swelled to 40-7 in the third quarter after a layup by Myandra Duquesnay, and reached 54-10 after five straight points by Angeli to close out the third quarter. It was then Clinton’s starters calling it a day, spending the bulk of the rest of the game watching from the bench.

Angeli finished with 21 points, Robinson added 17, and Castro — bum ankle and all — logged 10 assists. It was an offensive show of force that should have the Lady Governors and their deep roster in the mix for a division title this season.

“You could see today what Jordan and Chanel can do,” Simon said. “And their confidence is growing. The more we play, the more we win, the more the confidence grows. But we still have work to do.”

Robinson and Angeli do not think anyone has seen the best of Clinton just yet.

“I feel like we were low in the beginning of the season because we’re young,” Robinson said. “But as we grow up and develop, I feel we’re going to get a lot better than where we are right now.”

“Individually, we all have our strengths and weaknesses,” Angeli said. “But eventually, we’re going to get it all together and get even better. I feel like our team is good because we all cheer each other on, so our confidence doesn’t really ever get that low. We have a really good support system here.”

Clinton was scheduled to take on a 3-2 Stevenson team Dec. 17 and a 1-5 Morris squad on Dec. 18. But those two games were just the appetizer for the Lady Governors’ home game on Dec. 20, when they host Mott Haven. It was the Mavericks who handed Clinton its only loss this season, a 61-52 setback on Nov. 30.

Simon and company are motivated for the rematch.

“The first time we played against Mott Haven, we had three of our top girls in foul trouble and they didn’t play some of the second quarter and the third quarter,” Simon said. “Now we get them again at home, so we’ll see what happens.”

Just as they did against South Bronx, Angeli and Robinson combined to score 38 points in that season-opening loss to Mott Haven, with Angeli pouring in a game-high 27 points. Suffice to say, she is looking forward to the upcoming rematch.

“I did pretty good against them the last time we played,” the sophomore said. “I hope not to disappoint again this time, and we can get the win.”

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