Shamia Clay and Donna Blake are the only returning starters on a Lady Clippers team that finished 17-5 and made it to the third round of the state tournament a year ago. Now they’re playing with a roster of girls who are pretty new to the sport of basketball.
But that isn’t going to stop them from doing what they do best — running the floor on the fast break. The two girls have a knack for creating turnovers defensively and turning them into points on the offensive end.If they can take control while the new players grow, then things will continue to look up for the Lady Clippers.
“We have to get more aggressive on the defensive end and have more movement on the offensive end, especially when we’re setting up our offense,” Blake said. “We have to be able to beat man on man defense and get more shots off.”
Due to the youth and inexperience on this year’s squad, the Lady Clippers will present more 2-3 zone looks on defense than the 1-2-2 it was primarily running last season. Patterson coach Kelley Bagdasarian said her young team is coming along at a quicker pace than predicted.
“I’m pleased,” Bagdasarian said. “I had low expectations. We’re in a rebuilding process. It’s better than I thought. It’s not where we need to be but better than I expected.”
Blake and Clay have developed a good chemistry on the hardwood. Both get up and down the court fast, which will be essential as the rest of the team adapts to Patterson’s half-court offensive set. Blake’s good handling the ball at point guard and fighting her way through traffic. Clay’s a great complement at the 2-guard spot, able to slash toward the basket for buckets.
“She’s like my sister out there,” Clay said, speaking about Blake. “I tell her what she needs to do to get better and she does the same with me.”
Blake’s coming off a torn ACL suffered last year that forced her to miss the majority of the season. Blake said she and Clay have a bond on the court despite the time missed.
“We have great chemistry out there,” Blake said. “We see eye to eye when we’re running down the floor.”
Bagdasarian feels the team will be ready for its season opener on Thursday against Southwestern.
“It’s a brand new team so there will be lots of Basketball 101 at the beginning,” Bagdasarian said. “But we seem to be a team that picks up on things quickly.”
by Jason Butt