Learning how to win doesn’t sound too tough.
For a team that had won just 10 of its previous 63 games entering this season, though, the task is arduous.
Sprinkle in a handful of freshmen being thrust into prominent roles on varsity and it becomes a mammoth chore.
But Clark’s girls took another step down the path toward success Thursday, capturing their third game in as many days and wrapping up the consolation championship of the Vegas Invitational at Mountain View with a 60-51 win over Layton Christian (Utah).
“If it was easy, we’d all be winning every game,” said Clark coach Mike Moulchin. “We have so many freshmen and sophomores on varsity. They’re all just working hard, but it’s really hard to learn how to win.”
The Chargers (4-3) start three, and sometimes four, freshmen. They show flashes of brillance on offense and glimmers of hope on defense as they try to build a program that went 10-53 overall, including a 7-41 mark in Southwest League play, the last three seasons.
Clark appeared to be on its way to a sizeable win Thursday, using a good transition game to build a 50-33 lead after three quarters.
A bad pass here, an overly aggressive drive there, and the Chargers’ lead had dwindled to 52-47 with just less than three minutes to play.
Rosa Richardson’s basket steadied the nerves and got Clark back on track.
On each possession in the final minutes, Clark’s coaching staff shouted detailed instructions, imploring the team to relax and take its time. The young players listened. And learned.
“They’re real resilient,” Moulchin said. “We’re instructing them to be patient. We’re instucting them to just go out and play the game.”
Bobbi Floyd, a freshman, paced Clark with 22 points. Richardson scored nine points, and Shyanne Carter-Wade and Ashley Robinson each added eight points.
“The thing that is making Bobbi better is her teammates,” Moulchin said. “Everyone is learning. Last week, we were telegraphing our passes. We went back to the drawing board, and we’re passing better. They gave her some great feeds.”
Clark won its league opener against Spring Valley before dropping a pair of league games and the tournament opener. The Chargers rebounded to close the tourney with wins over Calvary Chapel, Fairmont Prep (Calif.) and Layton Christian.
“There are times when it’s going to be hit and miss, but I’m really excited about this team,” Moulchin said.
Callie Chandler led the Eagles with 18 points.
Floyd was named to the all-tournament team, joining Mountain View’s Briana Marruffo, Chadwick’s (Calif.) Jackie Stoneburner, Churchill County’s Cady Cordes and Sylmar’s (Calif.) Ruth Perez.
Briana Harris was named the most valuable player after helping St. Monica (Calif.) defeat Chadwick, 43-30 in the championship game.
Moapa Valley 57, Calvary Chapel 45 — Chanel Lacroix drained four 3-pointers and finished with 15 points, and the Pirates bolted to a 23-4 first-quarter lead on their way to a win over the Lions.
Ashley Noto added 14 points, and Hanna Leavitt had 13 points for Moapa Valley.
Alexis Harris scored 11 points, and Jamie Mejia had 10 points for Calvary Chapel.
Rock Academy (Calif.) 62, Eldorado 58 — Brittany Mitchell scored 10 of her 21 points in the fourth quarter as the Warriors came back from a 17-point deficit with 10 minutes to play to stun the Sundevils.
Michaela Mueller had 19 points on a pair of 3-pointers and 13 made free-throws for Rock Academy, which trailed 45-28 with two minutes to play in the third quarter.
But the Sundevils committed far too many fouls, including an intentional foul and a technical foul, to aid the Warriors’ cause.
Eldorado still led 52-42 with just more than five minutes to play, but consecutive 3-pointers by Mitchell and Dalena Cozakos sparked an 11-2 run to pull the Warriors within 54-53.
A pair of free throws by Mueller gave Rock Academy the lead for good at 60-58 with 1:03 to play, and the Sundevils had six turnovers and two missed shots on their final eight possessions.
Denisheun Jackson had 35 points for Eldorado, which shot 13 free throws, compared to 38 attempts by Rock Academy.
Needles 48, Del Sol 42 — Abby Chandler tallied 19 points, and the Mustangs outscored the Dragons 13-5 in the third quarter before holding on for the win.
Rela Coleman had 14 points, and Desiree Orozco added 11 points for Del Sol, which tralied 38-26 after three quarters.
Mountain View 45, Fairmont Prep (Calif.) 40 — Marruffo scored 14 of her 18 points in the second half to help the Saints hold off the Huskies.
Kiley Murphy added 11 points for Mountain View.
Blaysen Varandoe had 12 points, and Kelly Tran scored 10 for Fairmont Prep.
Agassi Prep 35, Sierra Lutheran 28 — Noelle Chavis tallied 13 points, and the Stars outscored the Falcons, 24-18 in the second half to preserve the win.
Karisa Yung had 10 points for Sierra Lutheran.
River Valley (Ariz) 41, Lake Mead 25 — Elizabeth Estes had eight points during a 12-2 third-quarter run that propelled the Dust Devils past the Eagles.
Estes finished with 17 points, and teammate Shanon Smith scored 14.
Abby Johnson led Lake Mead with seven points.