Gaona: Former Badger Clark trying to close out college career with pair of wins

2014-03-07T00:00:00Z Gaona: Former Badger Clark trying to close out college career with pair of winsDaniel Gaona Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Over the next two nights, Tucson High grad Christine Clark will play her final two home games with the Harvard women’s basketball team.

That won’t be the end: In no way is she planning on being done with the sport she loves so much.

“My plan is to play professionally,” said Clark, a four-year starter and captain who leads the Ivy League in scoring with 16.9 points a game. “I still love playing the game, and I want to keep playing as long as I enjoy it.

“Europe is probably the best option for women’s basketball players, but I would love to play in the WNBA. Just growing up watching it, you want to be a part of it if you can.”

Clark doesn’t know too much about going on to play professionally, but she’s not overly concerned with that right now since her college career could

run beyond this “special” weekend.

Harvard hosts Yale tonight and Brown on Saturday to close out the regular season. Winning both — or at least one — would not only put the Crimson in a better position to make the NCAA tournament and possibly give Clark a chance suit up for the at least one more game, but it would also make Ivy League history.

Longtime coach Kathy Delaney-Smith is one win from setting the all-time league record in both men’s and women’s basketball. She’s currently tied with former Princeton coach Pete Carril for most with 514.

Taking part in that would only add to a perfect sendoff for Clark, who was named to the All-Rookie team as a freshman and to the All-Ivy League team in each of the last two years and could very well be named the conference Player of the Year on Thursday.

Clark said several family members and close friends will be in attendance this weekend. Former Pima College men’s basketball coach Mike Lopez will have a special spot: Clark used to train with him and considers Lopez a father figure.

“I’m going to remember these two games probably just as much as any other big games we played,” Clark said. “There are so many things that make them special, but there were also a handful of other big games that I’ve play in my career here that were just as important and just as special.”

Clark scored 28 points in an 81-74 win against Northeastern to match a career high. Another highlight came on Jan. 31, when Clark scored 25 and to lead the Crimson to its first win at rival Princeton since 2009. Harvard also beat the Tigers at home last season 58-55, snapping their 33-game conference winning streak with the help of 14 points from Clark.

Clark’s best memory likely came her freshman year at Columbia, when she hit a game-winning shot with 3.5 seconds left. She finished with 10 points in the 69-68 win.

“It was a shot behind the backboard,” Clark said. “That one instantly jumps out in my mind.

“Overall my experience here has been unbelievable, and I’ve loved it so much; that’s why I’m so sad it’s coming to a close.”

Amphi coach Portillo tabbed as World Cup wrestling assistant

Less than a month after leading the Amphitheater wrestling team to its best finish since 1985, coach Sam Portillo was selected as one of nine assistants for USA Wrestling’s national freestyle team for the World Cup on March 15-16 in Los Angeles. This is the second time Portillo has been chosen as a World Cup coach. Amphi had three champions and was the runner-up at the Division III state meet last month.

Friars’ Cotton shines bright in final home game

Palo Verde grad Bryce Cotton had a career night in his final home game with Providence on Tuesday. The 6-foot-1-inch guard played all 50 minutes in a double-overtime 81-80 win over Marquette, scoring 25 points to go along with nine assists and seven rebounds. He sank a pair of free throws with 7.2 seconds left in the second overtime to put the Friars up for good.

Cotton is averaging 25.3 points in his last six games and was second in the Big East in scoring with 21.7 points a game as of Thursday. On Saturday, Providence will close out the regular season at No. 13 Creighton, which has the nation’s leading scorer, Doug McDermott.

Ex-Blue Devils pitcher Reyes off to strong start

Former Sunnyside ace Alexandria Reyes, now at NAIA Lyon College in Batesville, Ark., was named the American Midwest Conference softball Pitcher of the Week after striking out 13 batters in her first two starts.

Reyes, who went 15-2 and struck out 123 batters with the Blue Devils last spring, has an 0.00 ERA through 13º innings. She struck out 11 and gave up just three hits for a 1-0 shutout in her college debut last Friday.

Contact high school sports coordinator Daniel Gaona at 807-7761 or dgaona@azstarnet.com. On Twitter @DanielGaona13

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