READFIELD — The word nervous hasn’t had a chance to enter Sarah Clough’s vocabulary so far this week.

Perhaps things will change for the Maranacook senior guard as Saturday’s Class C state championship game against Houlton draws near. But still basking in the glow of being on the first girls team in the school’s history to win a regional title, Clough is just grateful to have high school basketball in her life for another week.

“I’m definitely taking it all in,” she said. “It’s weird to think this is my last week of ever playing high school basketball. It’s awesome, because it’s the farthest we’ve ever come. So it’s nice just to think that Friday will be my last practice, Saturday will be my last game and we made it as far as we could. I’m just really excited.”

Clough is one of the reasons the Black Bears have had unprecedented success this season. A tough, versatile two-way threat, she often draws the toughest defensive assignment from coach Jeannine Paradis, while also providing a steady outside shot that helps keep defenses from focusing too much on two-time Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference player of the year Christine Miller.

Dirigo found out how quickly Clough can catch fire when she hit four 3-pointers in the second quarter to put the Black Bears in control of Saturday’s Western C championship.

“Sarah’s had some games where she’s come up big for us,” Paradis said. “She hit six 3s against Nokomis. She’s had six 3s against Oceanside. She had four against Dirigo, which seemed to put us over that hump.”

Clough can tell when she’s got the shooting stroke going, but won’t let a couple of missed shots get her down, either.

“Most of the time when I’m shooting, I feel really confident,” she said. “You have to be.”

The 5-foot-6 Clough isn’t content to loiter on the perimeter and knock down an open 3. She’ll take the ball to the basket when she sees an opening. Even though she only has one game left, she’s still trying to improve her game in the paint.

“We’ve been working on her inside finishing, because she can post up very well,” Paradis said. “Plus, she gets a lot of off-board rebounds, and we’re looking to have her finish those putbacks, as well.”

As much as she gets a charge out of putting the ball in the basket, she takes even greater pleasure in denying someone else’s hopes to do the same on the other end.

“It makes me feel good. I know I’m playing good defense when I’m shutting someone down,” she said.

“She’s a very tenacious defender,” Paradis said. “She can create a lot of offense for us from her defense.”

Her most likely assignment Saturday will be one of the most difficult she’s taken all year — defending Houlton freshman guard Kolleen Bouchard, who averaged 17.7 points per game during the Eastern C tournament.

As usual, Clough embraces the challenge.

“I think if I keep my knees bent, I’ll be fine,” she said. “She’s fast, but I think I’m as fast as she is. It will be a good game.”

As tenacious as she can be on defense, Clough is even less willing to give up on her goals.

Paradis has her players write down their goals before each season. Clough has had one constant.

“I think everyone, or most everyone, puts ‘Win a Gold Ball.'” said Clough, who plans to attend Southern Maine Community College next fall and play basketball there. “I wrote it since I was a freshman. I’m just really hoping I get that.

“If we win,” she added, “when we get the Gold Ball, I think I’ll just be happy that I got to do it with this team.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33


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