Young Lady Dragons find positives in loss

  • Clinton’s Addison DelCarmen gets a shot off under heavy pressure Friday night. - Ken Leinart

  • Clinton’s Naiyah Sanders brings the ball up the court against Bearden Friday night. - Ken Leinart

Despite seeing her team’s season come to an end Friday night, Clinton High School girls basketball Coach Alicia Phillips found plenty of positives.

One thing that had her pleased was the Lady Dragons’ effort in their 76-37 loss to District 4-AAA Champion Bearden.

“We came in and we were ready to play,” she said. “We wanted to make them beat us from the three-point line. In the first quarter, we did a good job doing that. We did a good job defensively and we did a good job boxing out.”

Clinton (9-15) took an early 5-2 lead when Belle Starnes knocked down a three-point shot with four minutes, 57 seconds remaining in the first quarter. But the Lady Bulldogs (27-1) stormed back and closed the opening frame with a 17-7 run to take a 19-12 lead by stanza’s end.

The Lady Dragons, one of the area’s youngest teams, kept things close early in the second quarter and trimmed Bearden’s lead to 21-16 when Starnes scored with 5:44 remaining until halftime. That was before the Lady Bulldogs cranked their offense into high gear and notched their defense up.

Bearden outscored the Lady Dragons 22-6 in the second as Clinton’s Jazz Moore was saddled with foul trouble and her teammates became exhausted.

“In the second quarter, Jazz got into foul trouble and we got tired and they were able to get out ahead of us,” Phillips said. “Bearden is a great team. They’re probably the best team that I’ve coached against, and I’ve been coaching for seven years.

“I think they’ll go a long way.”

The Lady Bulldogs had their share of struggles from long range early as they made just one field goal from beyond the three-point arc over the first eight minutes. Bearden made just five field goals in the first quarter.

“We had some trouble scoring early,” Bearden Coach Justin Underwood said. “We played good defense. Once we got going, we shared the basketball well.”

The Lady Bulldogs, as they have so many times this season, posted a balanced and potent offensive attack to go along with their trademark stifling defense, and that would propel them to victory.

Avery Treadwell led Bearden with 19 points. Jennifer Sullivan added 17 and Zneyah McLaughlin finished with 15.

But Underwood commended the Lady Dragons for their effort.

“Any team that gets here is here for a reason,” he said. “They have one of the best players in Sarah Burton and we wanted to make sure that we kept somebody on her.

Starnes led Clinton with 12 points. Burton had 11 and Moore chipped in with nine.

While the Lady Bulldogs look to continue another deep postseason run, the Lady Dragons are looking to the future.

“We’re changing districts and we’re changing regions too,” Phillips said. “We’re young. We’re only losing two seniors and we have a lot to build on.”