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Creek Girls look to build on historic season

2017-18 CCA girls basketball preview
Karsyn Stratton (right), a powerhouse freshman last season, is one of two returning starters for the squad. (file photo by Chris Umscheid)

North Liberty Leader

TIFFIN– Clear Creek Amana’s (CCA) varsity girls basketball team made history last season as it notched its first postseason win in well over a decade. The Clippers defeated Benton Community, 53-40, on Feb. 15 at home in a Class 4A regional quarterfinal for the historic win. However, Cedar Rapids Xavier dashed the Creek Girls’ hopes of advancing farther with a 55-33 loss three days later in the regional semifinal. The loss ended the Clippers’ season at 13-10 overall, and 8-6 in the WaMaC Conference, good for fourth in the West Division.
Still, the win marked a significant milestone for the program, which had been plagued by frequent coaching changes and losing seasons. Head Coach P.J. Sweeney stated early in his tenure as head coach his desire was to build the program.
“It was one of those things where I’d seen the program at its lowest of lows, and I thought I could bring the program to a point that it’s never been. The way I look at it is Clear Creek Amana is like a diamond in the rough. We’re in a great location, it’s a growing district and I think there’s a lot of positives with it,” he said in a 2014 preview interview.
“Coming off our first district win in nearly 20 years the excitement within the program is extremely high,” the coach said in his 2017-18 prospectus. Sweeney, in his fourth year at the helm (and seventh year with the program overall) pointed out the roster has seen positive growth: up by 12 from 21 to 33, with 73 percent of the newbies coming from the ranks of the underclassmen.
Sweeney will likely need to tap into that newfound resource as the squad has lost Be DeShaw, Megan Cronbaugh, Claire Navara, Abbi Kinnaird, Erin Navara and Lauren Helle to graduation. Helle produced 138 points last season, averaging six per game, and earned an All-Conference Second Team berth for the West Division. Claire Navara was an All-Conference Honorable Mention selectee with 150 points for CCA.
Meagan Harvey and Karsyn Stratton, a pair of powerhouse freshmen last season, are the squad’s two returning starters. Stratton, a 5-8 guard, led the Creek Girls with 369 points, averaging 16 points per game, and earned a First Team All-Conference berth, Iowa Basketball Coaches Association All-Region Team honors and Iowa Girls Coaches Association Class 4A 3rd Team All-State honors. Harvey, a 5-9 forward/center, scored 130 points, averaging nearly six points per game and earning WaMaC Honorable Mention. Jordan Neely, a junior, is the only other returning player with significant playing time last season. Neely, a 5-5 guard, averaged 2.1 points per game with 1.7 rebounds.
Seniors Andrea Roller (5-8 forward), Elizabeth Sweeney (5-8 forward), Olivia Fairholm (5-5 guard), Madelynn Langridge (5-7 forward) and Allison Pettinger (5-7 forward) bring a measure of experience to the Creek Girls’ bench. Junior Katie Pitlick (5-8 forward) and sophomores Ainsley Schrock (5-10 center) and Allison Rummelhart (5-4 guard) will add depth.
“With only three returning players seeing significant varsity minutes last season, plenty of opportunities available. I’m excited to start practicing (first day of practice was Monday, Nov. 6) and build upon the success from last season,” Sweeney said.
The season opens on Tuesday, Nov. 21, at Anamosa with the first home game set for Friday, Dec. 1, as the Mount Vernon Mustangs visit. The Creek Girls will also play Liberty