This was the one time that Bayli McClard wobbled.
Her Hanford High basketball season was complete with a fifth straight Central Section championship, and the junior forward was talking about the pressure of being the team's spotlight player following the graduation of four-year star Madison Parrish.
"I honestly tried not to think about it," McClard said. "I knew coming in there was going to be pressure, so I tried not to think about it because that would just make it worse."
Yet you thought about it, right?
"I mean, yeah, I did.
"It's hard to explain."
On everything else, McClard was rock-solid while delivering Parrish-like impact. That has resulted in McMcClard being named The Bee's Player of the Year after Parrish earned the award twice and made The Bee All-Star team four times.
"Once in a while," said Sue Mahackian, who resigned as Edison's coach this week, "a gifted basketball player comes out of the Valley."
Like Parrish. Like McClard.
"And Bayli is not just a gifted basketball player -- she's a phenom," Mahackian said of a 6-foot force with explosive drives and perimeter touch to match. "What sets her apart from other players, both boys and girls, is not just her talent, it's her class on the court. She exemplifies every positive attribute that a basketball player should possess, and what every coach would dream to have in a player."
McClard's game -- 18.5-point scoring average, 9.6 rebounds, 3.4 steals and 3.0 assists -- would appear to represent completeness.
But hold on, Bullpups coach Tom Parrish says, there will be more: "Next year, she's going to be a full-picture player, and not just 30 points and 20 rebounds. She did play defense, but she's just getting better all the time. Every game, every practice, she's becoming a more all-around player."
At Hanford, it's about upholding the standards of a dynasty that has stretched not only to five conseuctive section titles but to 72 straight wins in the West Yosemite League and 97 in a row against section competition.
"We're known for working hard," says McClard, who's being recruited by several major colleges in the West. "And it gives me a lot of self pride to keep the tradition going."
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