Diamond meets Clever for Class 3 District 12 title

Feb. 22—Diamond girls basketball hadn't won a district championship since the 1986 season before claiming one last year over Lamar.

Now it has a chance to win back-to-back titles, just the same as that 1986 team did in '85 and '86.

"We have a special group at Diamond right now," head coach Marty Atnip said. "We're fortunate to have two to three classes that have bought in to what we're trying to do."

The Wildcats are 47-8 over the past two seasons and are currently 25-2 this year.

But coach Atnip knows there's a tough test ahead of them on Friday night as they come face-to-face with Clever (17-9) at 6 p.m. at Lamar High School.

"They start four seniors, so they're an experienced group as well," he said. "They play a tough schedule and will be a tough matchup for us. They have good depth and good shooters. They're similar to us in a lot of ways. It's going to take a good game from the lady Wildcats in order to get a win."

Clever is led by its senior point guard Ireland Jones who averages over 22 points per game. Which is similar to Diamond being paced by senior point guard Grace Frazier averaging 23.3 ppg.

The Wildcats also start three seniors in Frazier, MaKaylynn Lafferty and Caitlyn Suhrie.

The Bluejays put Diamond through one of its two losses this season. The teams met back on Dec. 8 at Clever. The Wildcats fell 57-39 in that one.

On Friday, it will be exactly one year after these programs met in the Class 3 District 12 semifinals on Feb. 23, 2023, at Diamond High School. The Wildcats won that game 64-48.

This year, Atnip wants to see his team work for the extra possessions. He believes that could be a key to victory if they can come away with more opportunities on the offensive end.

"It's important to get extra possessions," he said. "We have to crash the glass and get those rebounds. We have to be willing to dive on the floor and come away with what they call 50/50 balls. You have to want it more than them. It's not necessarily about skill sometimes but heart. Who wants it more? and it's a big game, so you have to play with poise."

He added that the team who executes more frequently on offense will likely be the team to walk out with the win.

Diamond looks to use its experience in last year's district championship game and playing in other championship games in tournaments over the past two years as leverage in this a matchup.