For the past two years, Clearview has been quietly putting together the pieces of a winning team.
This season the addition of freshman point guard Brooke Rebman to the returning duo of All-Lorain County and All-Patriot Athletic Conference performers — senior Brandyce Smith and junior Vanecia Billings — has given the Clippers their own “Big Three” and has sent them toward the top of the Stripes Division standings.
“We’re getting really good guard play with Brandyce and Brooke and then you’ve got Vanecia on the inside. So we’ve got three pretty solid players, which makes a huge difference,” Clearview coach Nick Dimacchia said. “It’s not just one or two kids who are doing it, everybody on the team is making big contributions.”
Smith and Rebman are two of the area’s top scorers, averaging 20 and 17.6 points per game, respectively. Smith is 83 points shy of 1,000 for her career.
Billings is averaging a double-double with 11 points and a team-high 11.3 rebounds per game.
The Clippers are 9-4 overall, with two of the losses coming to Stripes Division-leading Lutheran West (11-1).
“We’re still getting better every day and I don’t think we’ve reached our peak ability yet,” Dimacchia said. “We’re winning the games we need to win but the schedule doesn’t get any easier. Our record seems like it’s really good now, but we have to stay on task and focus on what we need to do next.”
Rebman has emerged as one of the area’s top freshman. In addition to being second on her team in scoring, she tops all of Lorain County with 5.8 steals per game and is second in the county with an average of 4.6 assists.
“One of the biggest contributions Brooke brings to the team is for the last three years Brandyce has been put in the position of having to be a point guard. Brandyce did a great job but she’s a natural shooting guard,” Dimacchia said. “Brooke is a true point guard. It makes a big difference in women’s basketball to have that point guard to set things up and run the show. It also makes a big difference when you have a kid who can really handle the basketball because it also frees up Brandyce, Vanecia and the rest of the team to do what they do best.”
Smith has responded to her newfound offensive freedom with huge efforts in some of the Clippers’ biggest games, scoring 31 points against Elyria and 29 points against Sandusky.
“We’re really working as a team. Everybody on the floor is communicating and we’re all on the same page. We have the right mindset to come out and play,” Smith said. “Now we don’t always have to rely on me and Vanecia to be the top scorers. This year we have Brooke to make shots, too, and dribble drive to the basket and make something happen. It feels great that all the pressure isn’t just on two people anymore.”
When Rebman drives to the basket, she’s a threat to pass or shoot and should she get fouled, she’s shooting 71 percent from the free throw line.
Saturday in the Clippers’ 64-52 win over Lorain, Rebman went 24-for-30 from the foul line to put her name in the record books with the third-highest single game free throw total in OHSAA history.
Although Smith, Billings and Rebman have accounted for 83.7 percent of the Clippers’ scoring this season, they are not the only ones contributing to the success. Ariana Vazquez is averaging 6.7 rebounds and 4.2 blocked shots per game, while Alyzabeth Lighty is shooting 44 percent from the field.
“It’s not even just about the wins but this season has been fun being able to coach kids who are really coachable and do what you ask them to do,” Dimacchia said. “These girls are working hard, doing what they need to do and they have that desire to win.”
After going through sophomore and junior seasons where wins were hard to come by, it’s even sweeter for Smith to experience success during her final year.
“It’s the best season of my high school career,” she said. “I want to keep this going to make my senior year as memorable as I can. It means a lot to be a part of this. It’s my last year of high school basketball. I hope I can play basketball at whatever college I go to, but right now this is a lot of fun and I want to keep it going.”
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.