Clear Lake 2019-20 Girls Varsity basketball team - Members of the 2019-20 Clear Lake Varsity team include: (front L-R) Taylor Krull, Tasha Adams, Assistant Coach Vernon Johnson, Head Coach Bart Smith, Assistant Coach Emily Hill, Julia Merfeld, (back L-R) Darby Dodd, Kaitlyn VanderPloeg, Emily Theiss, Ali Mausby, Zoe Fasbender, Sara Faber, Jaden Ainley, Chelsey Holck and Lexi Fasbender. -Reporter photo by Chris Barragy.
The competition better be ready. The Clear Lake girls basketball team has its sights set on a conference championship and trip to the State tournament and they look to have all the tools to do it.
Coach Bart Smith, in his ninth year at the program’s helm, returns seven letter winners from a team which went 17-5 last season and was runner-up in the North Central Conference with a record of 11-2. That experience, plus a wealth of depth on the bench, is expected to fuel the Lions this year.
Seniors Sara Faber, Julia Merfeld and Lexi Fasbender, all guards, are back for the Lions. Faber was a First Team Iowa Girls Coavches Association choice last season, as well as earning All-District, All-Region and First Team All-Conference honors. Merfeld was an All-Region and Second Team All-NCC pick, while Fasbender was named to the Third Team All-NCC.
That group is joined by junior forward Zoe Fasbender, who was a Second Team All-NCC selection. Junior Ali Maulsby also returns at the guard position, as well as juniors Chelsey Holck and Kaitlyn VanderPloeg, both at post.
When asked what new faces to watch for this season, Coach Smith simply states, “Everyone on our bench.”
“Ali Maulsby, Darby Dodd, Chelsey Holck, Kaitlyn VanderPloeg, Emily Theiss and Jaden Ainley will all be big contributors on this years team,” he said.
That depth, along with perimeter shooting, is the Lions’ biggest strength, according to the coach.
With this year’s team depth, we should be capable of playing at a fast pace and wearing teams out with our depth,” said Smith.
Team members attended team camps at Wartburg College and Okoboji in preparation for the season.
Smith said he considers the Lions, along with Hampton-Dumont and Algona to battle for the NCC crown. Each team returns a good number of starters.
“Our goal every year is to be the best we can possibly be by the end of the season. If we can accomplish that, we should be able to reach the team goals of winning the conference and getting back down to the State tournament,” said Coach Smith.
The head coach is surrounded by a talented staff. Emily Hill returns as the coach of the junior varsity team and serves as the progam’s director of basketball operations. Vernon Johnson is the freshman coach and social media director. Darren Hewitt is a volunteer coach who also keep statistics and is the analytical director for the program.