By Rob Potter
HANCOCK Livingston Manor girls’ basketball Coach Kevin Clifford earned his 100th career victory following the Lady Wildcats 48-12 win over the host Family School Lady Falcons in an Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division VI game. Clifford has a record of 100-- 71.
This is his ninth season at the Manor helm and he has guided the team to the sectionals in all of the previous seasons.
“It’s nice to reach this mark,” Clifford said. “I have had a lot a great players all throughout the years.”
When asked about memorable games and experiences, Clifford noted that a few stood out.
“I remember my first team, they were a great group,” he said. “The starting five was Charlene Vail, Jen Taggart, Mary Mills, Ashley Mann and Heather Sherwood. Katie Portz was our sixth man and Carrie Lewis came off the bench to play a lot of minutes.
“One season we had a game where we were down by 12 points to Eldred with two minutes to go and we came back to win,” Clifford continued. “Another year we finished with an under .500 record but got into the sectionals as a committee selection. We had to come up here to The Family School for a quarterfinal game. We came back in the second half to win that game.”
Among those great Manor players Clifford has coached is Marissa Diescher, who graduated this past June after a stellar high school career.
“Marissa played five years on the varsity team,” Clifford said. “She finished her career with more than 1,900 points.”
Clifford noted that continuity has been a key to the success of the program for the past several seasons.
“Angela Zayas and Christine Babich played for a few seasons together with Marissa,” he said. “And the three seniors on this year’s team Maggi Calo, Victoria Davis and Monay Allen have all played on the team for three seasons now.”
In addition to thanking all of his players over the years, Clifford noted that he had great opportunities to learn from other coaches.
“I was an assistant for two great basketball coaches, Ron Bernhardt and Andy Taggart,” Clifford said.
Clifford was a volunteer assistant coach for Bernhardt for seven years, six with the Jeffersonville-Youngsville girls’ basketball team and the inaugural season of Sullivan West girls’ basketball. Clifford then served as the varsity girls’ basketball assistant coach for Taggart at Manor for one year. Clifford was also the head coach of the Manor modified girls’ basketball team that season.
The following year, Clifford took over for Taggart as the head coach of the Lady Wildcats’ varsity team.
Clifford also has learned from his good friend Charlie Hicks, who is the coach of the Manor boys’ varsity basketball team.
“Charlie started coaching the boys’ team the same season I started coaching the girls’ team,” Clifford commented. “He and I are always talking about basketball and sharing ideas about strategy.”
“It was helpful having other good friends that are or were basketball coaches like Bobby Menges, Rick Ellison, John Tenbus, Kurt Scheibe Jr. and Pat Donovan,” Clifford added.
Clifford is also grateful to the other coaches in the Manor girls’ basketball program.
“Our JV Coach Dave Irwin and modified Coach Melanie Schwartz have done a great job of helping to develop players over the years,” he said.
Now that he has 100 wins to his credit, Clifford was asked about reaching the 200-win mark.
“Hopefully,” he said with a big smile.
Lady Wildcats run past the Lady Falcons
As for Tuesday night’s game, Manor (3-4, 1-0 Div. VI) took an early 16-0 lead against overmatched The Family School and never looked back.
Samantha Scott scored 10 points in the first quarter blitz, which Manor extended to 22-2 at halftime.
Throughout the game, the Lady Wildcats’ defense caused steals and turnovers which turned into scoring opportunities.
Monay Allen led the Manor offense with a game-high 14 points, while Scott finished with 12 points. Maggi Calo and Imani Miranda each added six points for the Lady Wildcats.
“I thought we played pretty well tonight,” Clifford said. “We played well on defense. We are still working on some things with our offense, but we got a lot of good shots.
“I liked the fact that we were unselfish with the basketball,” Clifford added. “We made good passes. And all of our players got a lot of minutes on the court, which was good.”
Maurissa Hammond led The Family School (0-8, 0-2 Div. VI) with six points.
“It’s a learning experience for us,” Family School Coach Dee Patrisso said. “Our girls kept playing hard the whole game and never gave up.
“About half of the girls on the team have never played basketball before,” Patrisso continued. “But all of them are out there playing with heart and giving it their best.”
The players Kevin Clifford has coached in his eight-plus seasons at Manor are as follows. A * means that player was a member of the team in Clifford’s first season.
Allie Mead, Ami Calo, Amy Stuhlmiller, Angela Trotti, Angela Zayas, Ashley Mann*, Bianca Colton, Brittany Klinger, Callie Bullis, Carrie Lewis*, Charlene Vail*, Chaz Reed, Chelsea Ademec, Christine Babich, Cindy Zheng, Danielle Baker, Denene Irwin Desire Dutcher, Devon Dutcher, Emily Dalrymple, Heather Estrada, Heather Sherwood*, Imani Miranda, Jackie Trotti, Jen Taggart*, Jessie Simmons, Katie Portz*, Kiera Browne, Liz Weikum*, Maggi Calo, Marissa Diescher, Mary Mills*, Megan Ellison, Melissa Schroeder, Michelle Meade, Monay Allen, Natalia Cruz, Nicole Miller*, Paige Clancy, Rose Curtis, Sabrina Hinkley, Samantha Bingay, Samantha Scott, Ta-Shauna West, Tatiana Brown, Tegan Kern*, Victoria Davis.