By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
TIFFIN – It is not surprising that Claire Navara couldn’t recite the win-loss record for her third-grade basketball team.
After all, it was nearly a decade ago and who really memorizes elementary basketball scores.
“I think we only lost a game or two,” Navara said. “I can’t remember exactly.”
While Navara doesn’t recall the exact record or many scores from that third-grade season she certainly remembers who was on that team.
That is hard to forget since most of the members of that third-grade squad are still her teammates today.
Claire Navara and her sister Erin are among five seniors on the Clear Creek Amana roster that began playing together on that third-grade team nearly ten years ago.
“We have been playing together since third grade, that’s a long time.” Erin Navara said. “We definitely have a lot of chemistry together.”
Current Clipper seniors Lauren Helle, Abbi Kinnaird and Be DeShaw were part of the group that began playing together as kids.
The sixth senior on the Clear Creek Amana roster, Megan Cronbaugh joined the group in seventh grade.
This season marks the tenth straight together for the five who became teammates in third grade and the group is hoping to make it a memorable one.
|Be DeShaw passes against South Tama. Jeff Yoder/For Your Prep Sports.|
Clear Creek Amana is off to a 4-4 start, halfway to matching its win total from last season.
“It’s really personal because we have played together for so long and this is going to be our last year playing together,” Helle said. “I feel like we can definitely push the bar a lot higher this year.”
None of the seniors remember the exact records throughout their time together but they all recognized they were always successful.
All six current seniors were primarily junior varsity players two seasons ago when Clear Creek Amana posted a 13-win season.
Last season was the first varsity season for the group and that inexperience showed at times during an 8-14 season.
“It was a very tough start, I think we kind of grew together more as a team toward the end of the season,” Kinnaird said. “We struggled with being a team toward the beginning and playing together but as the season went on we definitely got better.”
Clear Creek Amana started 4-4 last season but lost 10 of its final 14 games.
This season the Clippers have again started 4-4 but hope to reverse their post-holiday record behind the leadership of their seniors.
“They get along well,” Clear Creek Amana coach PJ Sweeney said. “We have six seniors and five of those six have been playing together since third grade so they have been together for a long time. They know exactly their roles. They know exactly what the other girl is going to do so that helps out tremendously.”
Each senior has carved out a niche over the past two seasons.
DeShaw, Kinnaird, Helle and both Navaras rank in the top seven on the team in scoring and rebounding.
Kinnaird is the top scoring among the bunch at 7.5 points per game, second on the team behind standout freshman Karsyn Stratton who averages 12.9 per game.
“There is a lot of chemistry there,” DeShaw said. “I’m sure we get sick of each other at times but it’s good that we know how each other plays.”
Erin Navara is averaging 4.9 points per game and Claire is scoring 4.6 per game and has a team-high 25 assists.
Helle, who leads the Clippers with 25 blocks, says the time playing with one another serves as a source of confidence.
“It definitely makes it more relaxing because you know what each player can do and what they can’t do,” Helle said. “It makes it easier on and off the court because we know how we interact with one another.”