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Clintondale looks to find its way back to top spot in MAC Silver

By: Mark Vest | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published January 23, 2012

 Clintondale junior Rolanda Petty attempts to dribble the ball past East Detroit’s Felisha Hill. Petty is expected to play a big role in the Dragons’ quest to climb their way up in the MAC Silver standings.

Clintondale junior Rolanda Petty attempts to dribble the ball past East Detroit’s Felisha Hill. Petty is expected to play a big role in the Dragons’ quest to climb their way up in the MAC Silver standings.

Photo by David Schreiber


Entering this season, the expectations were high for Clinton Township Clintondale’s girls basketball team.

The Dragons were last year’s Macomb Area Conference Silver Division champions, and coach Pete Romano, along with his players, believed that they were more than capable of accomplishing the same feat in this 2011-2012 season.

The midway point is approaching, and so far, the season has not gone according to plan for Clintondale. At press time, the Dragons were 3-6 overall, and 2-2 in MAC Silver play. They were sitting two full games back from first-place Clawson.

The early season struggles Clintondale has gone through may be due to its limited roster. The Dragons carry 10 players on varsity, and while under some circumstances that may be a large enough squad to still allow a team to accomplish its goals, in the Dragons’ case, it appears to have played a role in their slow start.

When a relatively small roster gets reduced even further, problems can start to occur. With players missing some time this season, the Dragons have had a short bench to work with. When you add other obstacles during games, such as foul trouble, it has created a challenge thus far for the Dragons.

Although they aren’t where they want to be in the standings, the Dragons have plenty of time to right the ship. Given that Clintondale expects to have a roster at or close to full capacity in short order, and with the addition of transfer Dacira Simpson to the lineup, Romano believes his team will respond favorably to the added depth.

“It’s going to give us a better bench,” he said. “It’s going to give us more competition at practice. People have been sitting there thinking they’ve got this starting position locked up. Getting people back, starting to play, it’s a little different. They’re getting a little more hungry. They know they’ve got to push themselves a little bit harder now to play.”

Romano also believes that because Clintondale is the defending division champs, opposing teams are bringing their A-game when they take on the Dragons.

“We have a target on our back,” he said. “Any returning team that took it (the title) the year before, you always want to get to ‘em. Especially when you’ve got girls returning, they remember, that’s just the nature of the game.”

While some teams may not be able to climb out of the hole a rough start to a season can create, all may not be lost for the Dragons this year.

Romano believes that in order for Clintondale to turn its season around, his players may simply need to re-gain the confidence they entered the season with. The two best ingredients to make that happen may be a change of mind set and some good old-fashioned wins.

“Attitude is always fixable,” Romano said. “They still have a desire to win. The way to make it back is by heart, and these girls do have heart. Getting a victory does a lot to a team. We’ll see what happens.”

Romano is hopeful that his nucleus of Samychia Pratt, Rolanda Petty and Jeanna Fuller can help lead the Dragons back down that road to victory. He does not intend for their slow start to define the Dragons’ season, and he believes his team may still have to be reckoned with in the chase for a MAC Silver title.

“We’re going to be fighting,” Romano said. “The goal is to win the rest of our games and avenge the two losses of the top two teams in the league, Marysville and Clawson. They’re going to be fighting it out pretty soon. Hopefully, we can knock one of them off, and they can knock off each other. When we start the second round, we’ve got to come on strong. We can be sitting somewhere if we get hungry enough. We can make a run.”

Pratt is also confident that her team is still in the hunt.

“We lost, but we’re trying to get back on top,” she said. “(We’re) trying to get that MAC Silver (title). The more wins we get, the more confidence we have. We’re striving to win.”

The Dragons will be in action next at 7 p.m. Jan. 26 against St. Clair Shores South Lake at home.