DALE — Dale hasn't had many close games lately.
So when the Lady Pirates and Breck Clark found themselves in a tight basketball game late in the finals of the Tri-County Tournament against Earlsboro on Saturday night at Oklahoma Baptist, there was some question about how Dale would react.
“It was good for us,” Clark said. “We struggled a bit in the fourth quarter but it when the playoffs come, every game is going to be like that and we've got to be ready for it.”
Dale won 52-45 with Clark scoring 23 points with 10 rebounds and three steals.
Clark was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player and earned Oklahoman Player of the Week honors.
“Her biggest strength is she attacks the bucket so hard,” Dale coach Josh Forsythe said. “She gets a lot of people in foul trouble. But also, what she's developed a little last year and more this year is her 3-pointer. Now, defenses can't back off of her because of that.”
For the tournament, Clark scored 72 points.
What Clark is perhaps most proud of, though, in the development of her game this year has been her improved passing.
“I've been working on my ball handling and getting my team more involved,” Clark said.
Clark is averaging about 1.5 more assists than she did as a junior.
“That's something her and I talked about quite a bit,” Forsythe said. “She's gotten so much better at passing and cutting and moving without the ball and creating shots for other people.
“And that's helped her out too. It keeps defenses honest, so in the long run, she's getting better shots. She's done a great job with that and continues to work on it.”
Recently, Clark has had to take on an added defensive role after Sam Berry, the Pirates' top defender, went down with an injury that is expected to keep her out until early in the playoffs.
So Clark has had to take on better offensive players.
“She anticipates really well,” Forsythe said. “She can be really aggressive.”
With the tournament behind them, Dale turns its attention to this week's games.
Tuesday, the Pirates play at Christian Heritage before playing at Bethel on Friday.
Bethel is the only team to beat Dale this season, winning in overtime Dec. 11 at Dale.
“Everybody's pretty excited for this one,” Clark said. “We're more ready to play than we were last time. It was just an off night for everyone.”