The Clinton Lady Dark Horses are getting prepped for the upcoming basketball season, this time with a large target on their backs as the defending 2A state champions.
“Early on I could tell that we could make a run for it all,” said Clinton High School coach Chris Owens. “We came together and worked hard for it all season, all that effort really paid off in the end. Thanks to the grace of God we were able to achieve what all wish for at the start of every year.”
What a year it was as the Horses nearly went undefeated, losing just two games. A loss to Northside was crucial as Owens believed that it was just what the team needed.
“We thought we were going to go undefeated, but Northside gave it to us,” said Owens. “In the end it was good for us because we woke up after that loss and made an awesome run afterwards.”
An awesome run indeed, one that garnered Owens four rings in a single year to go along with the one from the team’s state championship. He received the NCBCA Coach of the year, East-West All-Star Coach, State Champion game coach and the NCHSAA State Champion rings.
He also acquired four plaques as well, these were for the Four County Conference Regular Season Champs, NCAA East-West All-stars best coach, NCBCA Outstanding Achievement Award for All State Coach of the Year and the State Championship coach award.
“It was great to win four rings,” Owens commented. “I can’t say this enough, we really worked hard for it, everyone came together and that’s what it’s all about.”
“It’s hard to win it all, some coaches go their entire career without ever even making it that far,” Owens added. “For me to have won it in my first year is truly just a blessing. “Not just for me but the community as well, with all the support they showed us throughout the year we really wanted to did this for them too.”
The Horses are going to have to work twice as hard now and not just because they’re defending champs. They lost star combo guard and scoring leader Mikayla Boykin, who graduated as a top state recruit and is now attending Duke University.
Though Boykin is gone, Owens still has high expectations and hope for the upcoming season. Without Boykin’s presence the Horses aren’t left without leadership and experience for the upcoming year. The source being two returning starters of last years run Alex Canady and Ashlyn Williams.
“We’ve got good experience in Alex and Ashlyn. They will be my leaders and I’m holding them accountable,” remarked Owens. “It’ll be up to them to lead the team so I’m putting it all on them.”
“Regardless we have high expectations, we plan to compete and win the state again,” Clinton’s coach continued.”We are looking forward to the season and we’re ready to get out there and run with it. Just know if you ever play a CHS team I’m coaching you better be ready because we always come to play.”
Owens wasn’t the only who had something to say about the run and expectations for the Dark Horses. DeKyla Moore another returner from last season has faith that their team has a shot at doing what’s rarely done in sports. That is repeating and winning back to back titles.
“We worked hard together as a team last season and it made me feel like I could accomplish anything,” said Moore. “Plus we had a lot of support, I really liked that and hope it continues. It felt good winning it all last year and it gives me this feeling like we can do anything again for this season as well.”
“We claim it, believe it, worked for it and received it.”
This was the motto for the Lady Dark Horses during their championship run. They will have a chance at doing those things all over again soon as the 2017-18 season is right around the corner.
The Horses began preparations for their new season and conference, East Central 2A, at Clinton High on Monday.
Reach Michael Hardison at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @SampsonInd.