CLEARWATER — Patience and freshman starters usually don’t mix.
But Paul Lang’s calm approach has been embraced to the fullest as shown by Clearwater’s six-game winning streak, including Friday’s 38-25 triumph over Boca Ciega (1-5).
“I guess that goes to me being a teacher,” the first-year coach said. “If I’m yelling and screaming on the sidelines, they’ll think something’s wrong, they’ll get hectic and play out of control. If I’m in control on the bench, that’s going to rub off on them.”
And that approach has trickled down effectively to the seniors.
“In preseason we started a little slow and the freshmen were nervous,” said Tornadoes point guard Alex Alford. “But we told them that you’re all good, you’re all varsity players. They have the talent but they’ve got to feel they have the talent.”
With five assists to go along with 10 points and five steals, Alford did her best to get everyone involved, including freshmen Alex Hannah (seven points, four rebounds) and Adriana Harvey (six rebounds).
“It’s a pleasure to coach Alex,” said Lang. “She’d be happy not scoring any points and getting a bunch of assists if it meant we won the game.”
Fellow co-captain Deja Blunt used a friendly rivalry as motivation for a 12-point, 11-rebound night.
“Me and (Pirates standout sophomore) Niaya (White) played together in seventh grade for the Tampa Extreme in AAU ball,” Blunt said. “We go way back, and she’s one of their better players so we couldn’t let her get too many touches.”
With an aggressive matchup zone clogging the lane, the targeted White needed 19 shots to score a team-high 11 points.
The Tornadoes turned the tide by playing shutout ball over the final six minutes of the first half, turning a tie game into a 23-13 halftime edge that got no closer than eight the rest of the way.