There was no sophomore slump for Paris Clark. If anything, it was more of a sophomore surge.
Averaging 17.7 points per game this season, and as comfortable draining jumpers as she was locking in on defense, the Long Island Lutheran guard was a force on the hardwood, earning Newsday’s All-Long Island Player of the Year honors.
“She was big in all of the big games,” coach Rich Slater said. “For a kid that really hasn’t been in that spot before, she welcomed it. She didn’t blink an eye.”
Added Slater: “I think what impressed me the most is that she’s very chill. She let the game come to her. She didn’t force things."
Clark’s ability to take everything in stride made her a do-it-all player in the backcourt. In 19 games, she was held to single-digit scoring just once. At times, she served as the Crusaders’ point guard but also was able to pull up for shots on the wing.
And, if she missed one of those shots, Clark crashed the boards, averaging six rebounds a game.
“I think, when all is said and done, she’s going to be one of the best offensive rebounding guards that I’ve ever coached,” Slater said.
Clark also averaged 4 assists, 3.5 steals and 6.5 pass deflections per game and often wascalled on to defend the opposing team’s best players. It was a task made all the more challenging considering Lutheran’s national schedule, pitting the Crusaders against some of the top teams in the country.
But, as usual, Clark didn’t flinch.
“If I needed her to guard [the other team’s] best player, that was an easy decision,” Slater said. “When we needed, not just baskets, but plays or stops or deflections or whatever had to be done, she came up with it.”
Now, Slater is hoping Clark will continue to build on her success.
“She can be as good as she wants to be,” he said. “It’s great that she did it this year, but she’s got to do it next year and the year after. Her work is just starting.”