Lightly recruited Clapp getting noticed now
March 10, 2006
RENTON, Wash. - by Mark Moschetti, King County Journal Reporter
She started three years at Juanita High and averaged nearly a double-double as a senior. But hardly anyone in college basketball noticed Courtney Clapp back then.
They're sure noticing now.
The sharp-shooting senior center just recently was named a second-team Great Northwest Athletic Conference all-star. And, she has helped bring the Western Washington University women into the national spotlight.
``After playoffs last year, it kind of left a bad taste in our mouths,'' Clapp said of Western's 85-75 loss to Chico State of California in the NCAA Division II West Regional semifinals (the national round of 32). ``We didn't reach our potential.''
Clapp and the Vikings have another shot to reach it this year. All they have to do is win three straight games on their home court in Bellingham -- today, Saturday and Monday -- and they'll be off to Hot Springs, Ark., for the national Elite Eight.
``Last spring, we set these goals for ourselves. One of them was to host (the regionals), another one was to win our league,'' she said. ``Our ultimate goal is to make it to the Elite Eight.''
For Clapp, that would be a satisfying finish to a college career that began at Santa Rosa JC in California. Coming out of high school, there apparently wasn't much of a market for a 5-foot-11 player who could do a lot of things well (she averaged 11.0 points and 9.0 rebounds as a senior), but didn't regularly put up knockout statistics.
``I wasn't recruited that much,'' the 21-year-old Clapp said. ``I had a different role than I have now. I had a few big games, (but) I wasn't much of a scorer. I was more of a role player.''
Big points at Santa Rosa
Clapp knocked 'em out at Santa Rosa, where her 1,042 points in two seasons put her second among the school's career scoring leaders.
Western coach Carmen Dolfo noticed.
``We had heard about her in high school, but we weren't in a situation where we needed a post player at that time,'' Dolfo said. ``Then we had a couple graduate, a couple get hurt, and we needed to find a CC post player.''
Student assistant coach Ed Wissig recommended Clapp. He had helped to coach her at Juanita.
``We were 100 percent convinced she could step in,'' Dolfo said. ``She has really developed her range. She's not that big, but she's strong, and she can play inside and out.''
Clapp is among the country's top shooters, ranking 47th nationally at 53.3 percent. That has translated into putting points on the board -- and she's still pulling down a few boards, too. Clapp averages 13.8 points and 5.7 rebounds a game, leading Western in both departments.
``If they need me to score, I want to score. If I need to play great defense on some post player, then I want to do that,'' Clapp said.
At 26-1, the Vikings were ranked No. 4 in the final national poll that was released Wednesday. They will bring a 20-game winning streak and the No. 1 seed into today's 7:30 p.m. regional opener against Northwest Nazarene, which they swept in two regular-season games.
``It's always hard to beat a team three times,'' said Clapp, who had outings of nine and 13 points against the Crusaders. ``But they're fresh in our minds.''
Besides, now is no time to let up the intensity.
``We're going to try to come in pretty confident,'' Clapp said, ``because (otherwise), it's one and done.''
* Who (teams in seeded order): 1, Western Washington (26-1); 2, Chico State (24-3); 3, Cal State Bakersfield (23-4); 4, UC San Diego (23-4); 5, Seattle Pacific (22-5); 6, Cal State Los Angeles (20-7); 7, Humboldt State (17-10); 8, Northwest Nazarene (17-10).
* When: Today, Saturday and Monday.
* Where: Carver Gymnasium at Western Washington University, Bellingham.
* At stake: A trip to the Elite Eight, March 22-25 at Hot Springs, Ark.
* Schedule: Today -- Game 1: Cal State Bakersfield vs. Cal State Los Angeles, 12:30 p.m. Game 2: Chico State vs. Humboldt State, 2:30 p.m. Game 3: UC San Diego vs. Seattle Pacific, 5:30 p.m. Game 4: Northwest Nazarene vs. Western Washington , 7:30 p.m. Saturday's semifinals -- Game 5: Winner 1 vs. Winner 2, 5 p.m. Game 6: Winner 3 vs. Winner 4, 7 p.m. Monday's final -- Semifinal winners, 7 p.m.
* Tip-ins: Western Washington is ranked No. 4 nationally. UC San Diego, Seattle Pacific's first-round opponent, is ranked 23rd. ... Seattle Pacific has hosted the past three regionals, and has won the past two. Western and SPU are the hottest teams coming into the tournament. The host Vikings have won 20 in a row. The Falcons have won 15 of their past 16, with 14 of those by double-digit margins. Seattle Pacific's only loss during that span was 78-54 at home against Western Washington on March 2, which ended the Falcons' 36-game Brougham Pavilion winning streak.
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