Clear Lake made the most of these past four years. The Lions made the state tournament three times, establishing themselves as one of the most consistent programs in the state.
Along for the ride were Jordyn Barragy, Chloe Mueller and Gretchen Jones. They leave the program as a hard act to follow.
“They’re going to be one of the hardest seniors to replace since we’ve been here,” Clear Lake coach Bart Smith said.
None were ever the leading scorers on the team. Nor were they required to be.
But the program the Lions have built is reliant on everyone filling a certain role. That goes from girls like Sara Faber scoring nearly 20 points per game all the way down to the last girl on the bench. None of this works if that isn’t the case.
And that is something Smith admired most about the trio. It’s the reason the success was there again this year.
“I think it’s our seniors allowing those freshmen and sophomores to be comfortable,” the coach said. “Our seniors really identify and know that they’re good, and that can sometimes be hard for seniors who have been in the program for four years. They just are really good at being good teammates, being good leaders and finding the strengths out of everybody.”
Tuesday’s loss in the Class 3A state quarterfinals was their swan song.
Barragy was nearly unstoppable in the post, racking up a team-high 20 points. Defensively, she drew a tough task guarding Monticello’s 6-foot-2 center Jordan Kuper, and she passed the test with flying colors for the most part.
Jones served the same role she has for the past few season as the Lions’ floor general at point guard, and Mueller carried on her role as defensive specialist with the capability to knock down big shots on the offensive end.
All three ended their careers at state.
“It’s an unbelievable experience,” Barragy said. “Three out of the four years I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Most girls don’t get to experience this and I’m lucky I got to experience it with the best teammates out there.”
And now, the task rests on the remaining players to carry on that legacy. Don’t doubt the Lions’ ability to quickly bounce back, and maybe that elusive win at state will finally come next year.
“What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger,” Smith said. “There’s going to be some fire in there. There’s a lot of emotion there in that locker room, and when you have goals and you accomplish some of those, get to state and you end with a loss, end with disappointment, there should be some tears and there should be some emotion.
“I think it’s embedded in our program now. We just have to work a little harder.”