CLEARFIELD You can't blame the Clearfield girls basketball players for their disappointing 3-7 record, they've just been following the edict of their coach to play as hard as they can in practice.
Having players put forth maximum effort at all times is every coach's dream. Unfortunately for the Falcons' first-year coach Rebecca Packer, a recurring nightmare has developed as a result.
Tenacious practices have become a deterrent to their success because they have had injuries on a regular basis. So far this season Clearfield has lost at least five players for part or all of the season, including leading scorer Alexis Adams, who returned in a 55-30 win over Viewmont on Friday after missing four games (Clearfield lost all four) with a broken finger on her left hand.
Each of the significant injuries has occurred in practice.
"We get a little psycho (in practice)," said post player Kylee Young. "And we're all just accident-prone."
In addition to the injury to Adams, Clearfield has lost junior Felicia Justice for the year with a broken hand, Sabrina Evans to a concussion, Abby Shelhays to shin splints, and Tiffany Stringfellow and Aubrey Taylor to rolled ankles.
The locker room after their win over Viewmont looked like a scene from "Night of the Living Dead," replete with players slowly limping all over the place.
"This is what will tell us what type of team we are," Packer said. "We've got to go through it together. We've just got to go out and play."
For all the bad fortune that they've had, the Falcons were in high spirits after getting Adams back against Viewmont and winning their first region game after dropping two straight. Unable to score more than 34 points in their four losses without her, the Falcons got their running game on track, largely in part to Adams smooth play in transition.
She finished with 17 points in the game, but it is her all-around game and composure that the Falcons desperately need if they are to contend in Region 1.
"(Adams) is an important part," Packer said. "She's a very good player, with very good skills. She is calm and cool, and plays in control."
While Adams was noticeably rusty in the first quarter, she found her groove as the game wore on. Her versatility is important for the Falcons, as they continue to put together patchwork lineups filling the gaps caused by injury. She can play the high post as comfortably as she does the point and is equally effective scoring as she is distributing the ball.
Adams and Young form a nice 1-2 punch, but the intriguing player that will be key to the Falcons long term success is forward Shelby Wilcox. She poured in 16 points against the Vikings and is learning how to harness her game.
With Davis the established power of Region 1, there are a slew of teams competing for a chance to knock the Darts off their throne. Clearfield believes they have as good a chance as any to be that team, as long as they can stay healthy.
"We'll be good if we play as a team. And hit our lay-ups," Adams said jokingly after the Falcons missed a handful of easy buckets Friday.
Clearfield is hoping they can exact some of the punishment they dole out on each other in practice on their opponents during the region season.