Coming off the bench and providing a spark is nothing new for Corinne Clements.
She did is last year as a member of the Haddon Township High School girls' basketball team and she is prepared to do it again during her senior season. Only this time, when she steps on the court, she will be asked to not only provide the team with a spark on both sides of the floor, but also a sense of calmness and patience that only a player of her experience can bring.
That’s because when Clements finds herself on the court, she will almost always be surrounded by freshmen and sophomores.
Clements and Alexis Sommers will be the lone upperclassmen on a Hawks team coming off a 24-6 season. The rest of the varsity squad will be made up of five sophomores and four freshmen.
“It is a lot of pressure but I’m glad I am in this position and I am excited to play with all of (the younger players),” said Clements, the Hawks' captain. “I like all of them. We are all really good friends.”
Clements could see time as a starter this season, but is expected to resume her role as the first player off the bench. Head coach Tom Mulligan likes the energy Clements provides when she enters in games and feels it is a role that suits her skill set.
“Corinne has the experience in that role, having done it in the past, and I think she will be able to make a big impact for us,” Mulligan said.
Clements has the ability to score from the guard position, but also understands that her primary role is to provide fundamentally sound defense on each possession. With a team full of younger players who are hungry to fill up the net, her commitment to the defensive side of the ball will be especially valuable this season.
“I try to work really hard on defense,” Clements said. “If offense isn’t working out that day, then anyone can still work hard on defense. I just try to work hard and pump the other girls up so they want to work hard too.”
Clements and her teammates were all smiles Wednesday afternoon as they prepared for Friday’s opener against Audubon. With so much youth on the team it is no wonder there is a plethora of excitement.
“There’s a lot more energy lately,” Clements said. “We try to get pumped up before practices. They are all really good so they learn the plays really fast.”
Sophomores Katie Burns, Alayxiah Carr, Sarah Getzinger and Bella Preziosi are expected to start alongside freshman Morgan Lenahan. Haddon Township is just two years removed from a state finals appearance and appears to be constructing a team that could repeat that effort in a couple of seasons. However, going into a season without a single veteran starter is unfamiliar for Mulligan, who enters his 21st season at the helm.
“One of the challenging things is we are so young,” Mulligan said. “If everybody stays healthy, we will be starting a freshman and four sophomores (Friday). Some of the sophomores saw extended playing time last year so they do have that experience.
"The big 'X factor' with this team is that there are too many unknowns. We will go through stretches during scrimmages where we have too many defensive breakdowns and struggle scoring at times.
"I don’t know if they value every possession yet. They are just young so you see a lot of lapses and you really can’t afford that because we have a very difficult schedule. We will see. I am optimistic.”
So is Clements.
“I think we are going to do really well,” Clements said. “We can’t wait to get started.”