It wasn't the same Clyde girls basketball team the area has known the past several years Sunday afternoon at the ninth annual Classic in the Country Challenge.
And that had just about everything to do with the Lady Fliers opponent: Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown, the three-time defending state champions in Division II.Clyde players and coaches, along with experts around the state, believe the Fliers have what it takes to contend for a state championship. But if Sunday was any indicator, the Blazers are still the measuring stick in Division II.
Everyone knows it starts and ends with sophomore Amanda Cahill for Clyde, and she sat the last five-plus minutes of the first half and fouled out with 3:30 left. Clyde was plus-three with Cahill on the floor, and a staggering minus-18 without her.
But the Blazers had a lot to do with Cahill's foul trouble. They put her in bad positions down low with their decisive size advantage, forcing Cahill to use her body more in the paint.
The Fliers also shot just 13 of 49 from the floor and were held to 40 points, well below their average of nearly 70 per game. It seemed right from the beginning, Hathaway was able to force Clyde into a different style of game. Their length bothered them from every position, so outside shots weren't falling that normally do. When Clyde guards did beat a Blazer player off the dribble, waiting for them inside was 6-foot-4 center Stephanie Poland.
The bottom line was, the Fliers were forced to play a much different game than they were used to playing, and it wasn't an adjustment that could be made on the fly. This takes us back to the schedule argument. Certainly you want to win every game, but you don't schedule the five-time finalists and three-time defending champs in your division with visions of '20-0' in your head.
It's done to see what the bar is set at. Clearly it's still set at Hathaway Brown, and now the Fliers have seen what it's going to take ... because should the Fliers be fortunate enough to advance a step further than last season, I got a pretty good feeling who will be waiting for them.