Clarke seeking strong finish


It’s been a season of ebbs and flows for Clarke girls’ basketball, but with five games left to go, head coach Sean Fean senses an opportunity for his team to finish on a high note.

After a 1-3 start, the Lady Rams ripped off four straight wins earlier last month, including their Conference A-5 opener on the road against West Hempstead on Dec. 17. It was an encouraging sign heading into the holiday break in what is a traditionally tough conference. Senior forward Emily Carman scored 25 points in the game to lead all scorers.

Coming back in the New Year, the Lady Rams went up against the upper echelon of their conference, beginning with an undefeated Island Trees team. A lopsided loss in that game was followed by defeats to both Mineola and Locust Valley. In their third game over a five-day stretch, the Lady Rams hosted West Hempstead last Saturday, Jan. 19. The result would be a reversal from their first meetup a month earlier, with West Hempstead winning 61-23.

“We got on a little roll, we believed in ourselves,” said Fean on his team’s early season play. “But it’s any given night. We’re facing very good competition.”

At 5-7 overall and 1-4 in conference, the Lady Rams have a week to regroup before their next game this Saturday at 1 p.m. against Island Trees. Even during their recent stretch, Fean said he saw many positive signs that could parlay into future success. He said his team’s first quarter performance against a strong Mineola squad on Jan. 15 was the best quarter they’ve played all season. And the way his team has handled suffocating defensive pressure, he said, has improved drastically.

“It’s easier for us as coaches to see those things,” Fean said. “We’ve handled pressure and we’ve been able to build on that pressure, and attack and score. We’re not going into games playing afraid and being scared of being pressured.”

Carman has been the team’s most consistent scorer. A four-year starter, Fean said she brings full effort every night and is often matched up against the opposition’s top low-post player.

He also praised the play and work ethic of senior guard Haley Singer, who worked hard in preceding years to earn her place in the starting lineup this year. The senior has excelled with her perimeter shot, hitting five three-pointers in a non-conference game last month in a victory over Great Neck North.

And junior point guard Graceann Murphy has been a steady presence on the court with her ability to shake away defensive pressure. “She deals with a lot,” her coach said. “Her toughness is really what’s impressed me this year.”

Having fought through adversity all season, Fean said he is eager to see his team perform down the stretch, while looking ahead to some winnable games on the schedule.

“We know who we are and it’s just about working to improve,” he said. “If we focus on getting better every day, there’s some good things at the end of the rainbow.”