PLATTSBURGH — After a school-record 19 wins, three Mountain Valley All-Conference selections and a Conference Coach of the Year pick, the Clinton Community College women’s basketball team looks to build off its past success.
The Cougars open their season today at Adirondack Community College using completely new offensive and defensive systems. With four returners from last year’s squad that lost in the NJCAA Region III Division III tournament to Hudson Valley Community College, Clinton has the experience for more success, coach Donna Dixon said.
The Cougars come into this season with a nine-player roster, including four freshmen. But what the team may lack in numbers, it makes up for in height. Four players are 5 feet, 8 inches or taller, and Dixon said the team will use its height as an advantage.
“We’ve got more depth in height than in recent years,” Dixon said. “Our goal this year is control the boards and not allow opponents any second chances off rebounds. I can’t say how much I want us to own the boards.”
Manning the paint will be 6-foot sophomore center Ruth Paul. Paul was a Mountain Valley All-Conference player last season who led the Cougars and was second in the region with 11.23 rebounds per game. She also set the single-game school record with 25 rebounds against North Country Community College.
The Clinton defense is going to play more zone and force its opponents to take outside shots.
“We’ve got the players to do that,” Dixon said. “Pulling down the defensive rebounds will set up our offense.”
The Cougars shot their way to 64.6 points per game last season using a more outside-look scheme. This season, the team will look to do its damage in the paint. Using more high-post looks, the Cougars want to, again, use their height to score points. In addition to her board presence, Paul averaged 7.6 points per game.
Last season, the team played a more up-tempo offense with shooters Jade Pellerin, Katrina Garrand and Kiyanna Edwards each scoring more than 200 points for the year. While Garrand returns this season, the offense will call for a more pass-first, shoot-second approach. Players have bought into the new system, Dixon said.
“Our players know what we’re looking for out of the offense this season,” Dixon said. “It’s something new, but they’ve all bought in. Inside shooting won’t be a majority, but it’s definitely our go-to for now.”
If the inside shots don’t fall, the Cougars will be just as dangerous from beyond the arc, Dixon said.
Garrand was second on last year’s team with 30 3-pointers while freshmen Katelyn Gates and Alisha Ducatte are expected to be outside shooters as well. Gates and Ducatte already have chemistry after playing together at Saranac.
The two former Chiefs are not the only ones with chemistry. While Dixon was busy coaching women’s soccer, returners Paul, Meg Barber and Emily Decker conducted their own preseason workouts for the team. Garrand and Decker will both serve as team captains for the season.
When not on the soccer field, two-sport athletes Garrand, Olivia Seymour and Tiarra Spencer joined the basketball workouts. Freshman Jessica Decker is rehabbing from knee surgery and is expected to contribute once she fully recovers. Having that time together in the weight room and in the gym built team unity, Dixon said.
“Those preseason workouts worked because everyone has already jelled,” Dixon said. “We still have to work on conditioning, but now everyone knows everyone, and we can go into practice with players on the same page.”
The team unity has shown in practice and in Clinton’s lone preseason scrimmage against Potsdam last weekend.
“Our players left it all on the floor at Potsdam, and I couldn’t ask for more than that. This group knows what needs to be done to win games,” Dixon said.
After today’s game Adirondack, the Cougars will play their home opener Tuesday, Nov. 6, against Word of Life.
Clinton Community College
Women’s basketball 2012-13 roster
No. Name Hometown Yr. Position
5 Katrina Garrand Mooers So. G
10 Olivia Seymour Chazy Fr. G
11 Tiarra Spencer Tupper Lake So. G
12 Ruth Paul Queens So. C
13 Meg Barber Peru So. F
14 Katelyn Gates Saranac Fr. G
15 Alisha Ducatte Saranac Fr. G
20 Jessica Decker Peru Fr. F
24 Emily Decker Peru So. F