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The Clintondale Dragons will attempt to fend off challengers to their MAC Silver title

By: Mark Vest | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published December 21, 2011

 Clintondale senior Samychia Pratt goes up for a layup at a recent practice. Pratt will attempt to help lead her team to their second straight MAC Silver title.

Clintondale senior Samychia Pratt goes up for a layup at a recent practice. Pratt will attempt to help lead her team to their second straight MAC Silver title.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

Last season was a banner one for Clintondale’s girls varsity basketball team. The Dragons finished the season 12-5 overall and went 12-2 in league play en route to a MAC Silver championship.

Despite the success they enjoyed, from the players’ perspective, there may have been one slight glitch to the 2010-2011 season: The Dragons had to share their MAC Silver title with the New Haven Rockets.

Clintondale’s goal for the 2011-2012 season is to be a little bit greedier this time around.

“I don’t want to share it,” said senior Samychia Pratt. “We have plans on being the MAC Silver champions. That’s what I’m hoping for, and that’s what we’re going to work on. As long as we do what you’re supposed to do and think smart, we’ll do it.”

Teammate Rolanda Petty also has high hopes for the season.

“I want us to go places,” she said. “I want to lead my team.”

Clintondale lost three starters from last year’s squad, and coach Pete Romano is looking for players who are willing to step up and fill the void that was created. He believes he may have found two good candidates in Pratt and Petty.

“I look for those two to be my heart and soul of the team, my bread and butter,” Romano said. “Rolanda Petty, our point guard, is returning. She’s an 11th-grader. She’s going to take the reins this year. She’s going to have to be my leader. She’s matured a lot; she loves to win. Hope that maturity shows. (Pratt) is a returning forward, our top scorer from last year. She wants to win badly. She’s working hard to be here. She can do everything.”

Despite losing three starters, the Dragons are not completely void when it comes to seniors. Aside from Pratt, Romano can also look to Lannette Bellamey, Monica King, Isreala Green and Kyra Byrd to help stabilize his squad.

While some of his upperclassmen haven’t logged an abundance of game minutes, Romano believes his team has enough attributes to overcome the lack of experience.

“Our strength is going to be our speed,” he said. “We have got two really powerful point guards that can really handle the ball well. I have very quick girls on the wings, and I have some power in the middle to crash the boards. The only thing that’s going to put us together is time. This year, we don’t have the maturity, but we have the ability. We’re down to maybe nine, 10 girls. We may be short in players this year, but we’re going to be strong in guts.”

Last season was Romano’s first as Clintondale’s coach. And although it didn’t take him long to experience the feeling of winning a league championship, he is far from satisfied.

He believes the Dragons are in a position to make another run at a MAC Silver title and usher some more seniors out on a winning note.

“Our goal is to defend our title,” Romano said. “We only allowed 33.8 points per game last year. Our defense was our specialty, and I actually hope we’re going to do better than that. We’re really emphasizing defense this year. I got a little bit smaller team than I had last year, but I believe we’re going to put it together and we’ll be there.”

Given the number of players who can come and go from one season to the next in high school sports, each year can present different challengers for a league title.

“The team we have to look out for is Marysville,” Romano said. “They had an undefeated JV team last year; they’re looking forward to taking the crown this year.”

The coach added he expects South Lake to contend and for New Haven to be hungry to defend its co-championship.

“It’s going to be tough; it’s going to be hard. It was hard last year. This year, it’s going to be guts and glory,” he said.