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Clipper girls up to the challenge

CCA’s Be DeShaw is just one junior to return for the Clipper girls’ 2015-2016 season. (Leader file photo)

North Liberty Leader
TIFFIN — Clear Creek Amana (CCA) girls varsity coach P.J. Sweeney addressed the biggest and most obvious question about his Creek Girls in the upcoming season.
“How will you replace the nine seniors that graduated from last year’s team? A team that had its first winning season in 14 years?” he posed. “The simple answer is, it won’t be easy, but I’m ready for the challenge.”
Those graduated seniors are Kelsey and Megan Hall, Moriah Johnson, Lexi Kinnaird, Hannah Mougin, Kiley Seelman, Hanna Stokes, Alexa Sweeney and Emily Weiland. Their winning season ended on the road at 13-9 overall in a Class 4A Regional Quarterfinal game at Mount Pleasant. The Clippers were third in the WaMaC, at 12-6 in conference play.
Stokes was a WaMaC All-Conference First Team pick with 14 points per game to lead CCA offensively. Kinnaird was a Second Team selection with 11 points per game, and Mougin was an Honorable Mention pick with 6.5 points per game, as was Seelman, with nearly eight points per game.
In their place are three seniors: Natalia Turner, Jacqueline Fairholm and Allissa Schwarting. Sweeney is confident they will step up and provide leadership for the team. “On the flip side,” Sweeney said, “the junior class is deep with numbers and talent. With only one loss at the junior varsity level last season, they have the ability to play.”
Those juniors include Be DeShaw, Lauren Helle, Abbi Kinnaird, Claire Navara, Morgan Carew and Erin Navara. DeShaw is a 5’-3” guard, and Helle is a 6’-1” center who averaged 1.5 points per game last season. Kinnaird, at 5’-10”, is a guard/ forward and Claire Navara is a 5’-6” guard/forward. Carew, at an even five feet tall, is a guard, and Erin Navara is a 5’-8” forward/center who sat out last season due to a wrist injury.
“If I had to spotlight two players it would be (Natalia) Turner and (Lauren) Helle,” Sweeney said. “They’re the two players with the most varsity experience.” Turner’s skill set, he said, includes the ability to shoot three-pointers and, “take opponents off the dribble.” Helle is a post that will create mismatches with her size and length, he said. “Her skill set is rebounding, blocking shots and finishing around the rim.”
Sweeney, in his second season as the head coach, said less than five percent of the team’s scoring players are back this year, as well as most of the team’s varsity experience.
“We have our work cut out for us,” he said, but remained optimistic. “In order for a successful season, three things need to happen: limit out turnovers, rebound the ball, and– biggest in my eyes– the adjustment to varsity level basketball,” said Sweeney. The team, he added, “…will need to grow up in a hurry.”
The season opens on Thursday, Nov.19, in Wellman at the Mid Prairie Jamboree starting at 5 p.m. The regular season tips off on Tuesday, Nov. 24 as Anamosa visits for a junior varsity-varsity pairing starting at 6 p.m.
Coaches Nathan Elliott, Alex Schultejans and Brenden Drahn will assist Sweeney this season.