Dynamic duo fuels Olympus girls basketball turnaround
Feb 11, 2020 12:00PM
● By Josh McFadden
Olympus girls basketball player Alyssa Blanck directs the offense for the Titans. (Photo courtesy of Megan Conrad)
By Josh McFadden | [email protected]
It’s not easy transforming a team with a lot of losses into one that consistently wins. But it sure helps if you have the right players.
Olympus girls basketball coach Whitney Hunsaker sure knows this. Just two years ago, her squad went 1-20 and lost all 10 of its Region 6 games. Last year, the Titans completed quite the revival, going 12-10 overall and 6-4 in league play.
As of Jan. 22, Olympus was 9-5 and held a 4-3 record in Region 6. Behind the play of Alyssa Blanck and Monet Clough, the Titans aren’t an easy matchup any longer.
Last season as a freshman, Blanck emerged on the scene and led the team in scoring by putting up 11.5 points per game. This season, she had increased that to 16.7 points an outing. She’s also pacing the team with 10.5 rebounds per game. Meanwhile, Clough, an experienced senior, has maintained the eight points per game she averaged a year ago. She contributes 4.5 rebounds a game too.
Both players are assets to the team on the stat sheet and in intangible ways.
“My role is to be a leader,” Blanck said. “I talk to teammates, motivate and push my teammates to their abilities and help them improve. I also look to score and be active in that role.”
Clough knows it’s important to be an example in practices and in games, but in other situations as well.
“I feel my overall role is a team leader on and off the court,” she said. “On the court, I always try to bring positive energy to motivate the team.”
Clough prides herself on defense and shutting down opponents with an aggressive style of play. She tries to disrupt the other team’s offense by swatting away shots and picking up steals.
“I feel I am strong under the basket, and I make it difficult for teams to get to the basket,” she said. “It helps keep teams one-dimensional on offense.”
Blanck is an overall talent and the Titans’ go-to play on offense. She has also started doing a little coaching.
“I have taken a role to help a teammate improve her post moves to help give her confidence down low and how to be more effective putting the ball in the hole,” she said.
A 9-5 record is nothing to scoff at, especially for a team that not long ago struggled to remain close in games after halftime. While both Blanck and Clough are pleased with the team’s performance, they know more important games lie ahead that will demand the squad’s best effort.
“The season has gone well so far, but I am eager to improve,” Clough said. “We are expecting to go far this season, and I am excited to watch us improve and reach these expectations as the season progresses.”
Last season, the Titans lost to Farmington in the first round of the Class 5A state tournament, 56-50. Blanck and Clough are eager to return to the postseason and advance with some victories.
This season, the new RPI system qualifies every team for the playoffs. At press deadline, the Titans were seventh out of 29 schools.
“My goal is to win the rest of our games in region and make it really far in state and contest for the state title,” Blanck said. “I need to do my job, share expectations and hold my teammates accountable to that expectation. We are all on the same page, so we all just need to hold each other accountable.”
Blanck still has two more years remaining at Olympus after this season. As for Clough, she will look back fondly at her time as a Titan.
“When I am done with basketball at Olympus, I will remember most of my experiences with the team such as celebrations in the locker room after a win, team dinners and the hard work we put into reaching our goals.”
Olympus wraps up the regular season Feb. 13 against Skyline. The state playoffs tip off Feb. 18.