The Press Newspaper
Clay girls basketball coach Corey Slovak has been named the Three Rivers Athletic Conference Coaches of the Year.
In his second year at the helm, Slovak brought the Eagles back to respectability, taking the Clay girls program to a 14-10 season, including 8-6 in the TRAC, with just two seniors on the roster.
“Getting TRAC Coach of the Year was definitely an honor, but I consider it a ‘program award,’ Slovak said. “Our players bought into the system, gave us great effort, and made things happen on the court.
“We have a great group of girls, and they deserve the credit for our success this season. My coaching staff also did a fantastic job all year long with preparation, adjustments, and teaching our game plan week in and week out.”
Slovak, a 1989 Clay graduate, was an Eagles assistant girls coach the year before he was hired under Kevin Crosson, who resigned the previous April after one season due to health issues. Slovak also helped coach Central Catholic’s boys’ team for three years with Jim Welling, who is this year’s TRAC Coach of the Year on the boys’ ledger.
Two Clay players, 5-foot-6 junior guard Morgan Connor and 5-6 sophomore guard Haley Hess, are second team All-TRAC selections.
Connor, who holds a 4.42 GPA, averaged 13.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, four turnovers, 2.2 assists, and had 41 steals. She shot 43 percent from inside the three-point arc (29 for 68) and 37 percent from beyond the arc with 40 treys.
“Morgan is a two-year varsity starter and our overall best player,” Slovak said. “She is in the top five in TRAC scoring average and contributes each game in the steals and rebounding categories.
“Morgan is the key reason, both on and off the court that our program has rebounded to win 14 games so far this season after winning a total of eight the previous three seasons.”
Connor had 20 points, five rebounds, three steals, and four three-point goals in a 58-27 season opening win over Delta, 20 points, five rebounds, and four treys against Central, 19 points and three steals against Findlay, 17 points, four treys, four rebounds, three assists, and three steals against St. Ursula Academy, and 17 points, four treys, and six steals in a 66-51 loss to Sylvania Southview.
Haley Hess led the team in three-point field goal percentage (40), overall field goal percentage (60), and free throw percentage (78), even though she has two more years of varsity basketball.
“She has put the team above herself by accepting her role as sixth man for the greater good of the team chemistry, yet still leads our team in scoring,” Slovak said. “Haley has played a major role in our overall turnaround here at Clay this year.”
Hess averaged 13.7 points, 2.5 rebounds, two turnovers, two assists, and had 26 steals. She also has a 3.93 GPA.
Hess’ top games included 23 points, five rebounds, and 8 for 8 from the charity stripe in a nail biting 59-57 loss to Springfield, 18 points, four three-point field goals and three assists in a 70-58 win over Bryan, 19 points, three treys, and three steals against league foe Fremont Ross, 16 points and four treys in a 65-51 loss to Northern Lakes League champion Perrysburg, and 16 points and four steals against TRAC champion and Division I state final four qualifier Notre Dame Academy.
Two other Eagles, juniors Samantha Enck and Haley Orr, are honorable mention picks. Enck, a 5-4 guard, averaged 9.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, and had 27 assists and 21 steals.
Enck had 21 points, four rebounds, three assists, and shot 9 for 12 from the field against Ross, had 16 points and seven steals against SUA, had 15 points and seven rebounds against Mansfield Senior, had 15 points, six rebounds, two assists, and was 6 for 8 from the field against Bryan, and had 15 points and four rebounds against Central Catholic. But there is another side to Enck’s game.
“Sam was a very important player to our successful turnaround this season at Clay,” Slovak said. “She is one of our top defenders and was always tasked with guarding the opposing team’s best player. Whether it was a point guard or a 6-1 forward, Sam was up to the task.
“The fact that she nearly averaged double figures in scoring was an added bonus, as she was often our fourth option on offense.”
Orr, a junior guard, averaged just under four points a game but that doesn’t concern Slovak. Orr is another one of Clay’s defensive specialists.
“She’s smart,” Slovak said. “You get her on the court and she plays like she’s in a bad mood. She plays defense with kind of that chip on her shoulder, and she’s very selfless. She’s not worried about scoring or being a big part of our offense. She knows her role very well.
“Haley Orr did a lot of the gritty work for us this season. We usually put her on our opponent's best offensive player, no matter what position. So she might be guarding a point guard one night, and then the next game we'd tell her she's guarding a 6-1 post player. Having those type of versatile kids on a team is invaluable.”
Last week, Haley Hess and Connor were both chosen to the Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press second team, 5-8 sophomore guard Hannah Hess was third team, and Enck was honorable mention.
Hannah Hess averaged 7.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, had 29 assists and 16 steals. She had 15 points, two rebounds, and two assists against SUA, 12 points and seven rebounds against Ross, 14 points, two rebounds, and two assists against Notre Dame, 14 points, four rebounds, and two assists against Waite, and 14 points, three rebounds, two assists, and had four treys against Lake.
“Hannah started as a sophomore for us this season and scored in double figures in 10 of our games,” Slovak said.
“She has a great dual threat attack on offense with her ability to shoot the three-ball and get to the rim with the dribble drive. As a first-year starter, even as a sophomore, she was a key player in helping us get to 14 wins this season.”
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