El Dorado girls basketball coach Destinee Rogers understands the importance of defense. In high school, she won four state championships in a row, two at Strong and two at Camden Fairview. All four championship runs were sparked on the defensive end.
In the Arkansas Activities Association’s new basketball classifications, the Lady Wildcats might be hard-pressed to finish this season with a title in the rugged 5A. But, if Friday’s 57-40 win over previously unbeaten Hot Springs Lakeside is an indicator, El Dorado’s defense could make some postseason noise.
Senior Breya Clark has been El Dorado’s defensive sparkplug. That was the case again on Friday as she matched up with the Lady Rams’ senior guard Ashton Patrick. Patrick finished with 21 points but was held without a field goal for an 11-minute stretch at the end of the first half and deep into the third quarter.
“I can’t say enough about Breya Clark,” said Rogers. “Every single night she knows that she probably has the toughest assignment, game-in and game-out. She will always face their best guard. She’s our best defender. We also ask her to be aggressive on offense. So, she has the toughest job, right now.”
During Clark’s 11-minute defensive masterpiece, the Lady Wildcats built a 39-23 lead. Patrick would score 13 of her points after that stint.
“(Clark) came out tonight and she did exactly what we asked her to do against (Patrick),” said Rogers. “I don’t think she could’ve done a better job on her than what she did.”
Clark’s effort sparked El Dorado to its best performance of the season. Rogers went as far as to say, the Lady Wildcats’ 10-3 record would be even better if her team had played this way all season.
“This is what I believe and things happen for a reason. They were all lessons. But, if we played like we did tonight the whole season, we’d be an undefeated team, right now,” she said. “I don’t believe anyone would’ve played within 20 points of us, other than West Memphis. I do believe that. But, it didn’t happen that way. And, I’ll say this, I’d rather be playing this way during conference than during non-conference.
“I’m pleased but as you know, I’m not satisfied. I’m not satisfied until we complete the full job. So, we’ll celebrate this one and then Sunday, we’ll get prepared to go to J.A. Fair on Tuesday.”