Hanford High's reputation in girls basketball preceded her: a 2001 state championship and an assembly line of stars -- Shawntinice Polk, Amy Parrish, Jenny Thigpin and Madison Parrish, to name the elite.
And now Bayli McClard joins that team of alumni -- not only in the lore of Bull-pups hoops, but the West Yosemite League and the Central Section as well -- as she packs her packs her bags and heads to the Pacific Northwest.
"When I was younger and looked at the high school players," says The Bee's repeat girls Player of the Year, "I never thought of myself doing that stuff, not really. Now that it's all over, looking back, I didn't think I'd play on teams that won so many Valley championships and the WYL."
McClard, at 6-foot-1 and with the ability to play multiple positions, will extend her career at Gonzaga of Spokane, Wash., in the West Coast Conference.
Gonzaga is coming off a fifth straight NCAA Tournament appearance this season.
"She's made for college," recently retired Hanford coach Tom Parrish says. "She has the body, the height -- you just don't come across too many like her. If I had a bunch of those, I would have never lost a game."
Those were infrequent, regardless, for the Bullpups with No. 23 on the court.
They went 101-22, including 48-0 in the WYL, with three section titles in her career.
The finish found a crash this season -- a 57-39 loss at eventual section Division I champion Clovis West -- but not before McClard signed her section signature with a game that balanced interior power with exterior finesse, including 3-point shooting.
"Once in a while," former Edison coach Sue Mahackian once said, "a gifted basketball player comes out of the Valley. And Bayli is not just a gifted basketball player -- she's a phenom."
Not Polk, Parrish, Thigpin or Parrish -- all major-college signees -- could match McClard's versatility. And that was reflected in her four-year statistics -- 1,795 points, 140 3-pointers, 885 rebounds, 351 steals and 244 assists.
No accident, says Tom Parrish, who went 197-47 with five section titles in eight years at Hanford: "She worked harder in the offseason than anybody I've had. I don't think she was a natural born shooter, scorer; that has all been developed. She's put time in the gym."
Player of the Year
The Résumé: Repeat Bee Player of the Year and four-year starter for teams that went 101-22 overall with three Central Section titles and 48-0 in the West Yosemite League. She scored 1,795 career points for fourth in school history behind Shawntinice Polk (2,163), Amy Parrish (1,971) and Jenny Thigpin (1,845). And she also averaged 18.0 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.8 steals for 23-5 team this season. Next: Gonzaga.
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