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Clement chooses Marist College

Sports

Clement chooses Marist College

PORTLAND—If McAuley standout Allie Clement was good enough to be named first-team SMAA all-conference, a member of the all-Defensive team, Winter Athlete of the Year and Maine Gatorade Player of the Year and lead the league in scoring last season all while being hindered by an ankle injury and burdened over the difficult decision of where to play in college, just imagine how unstoppable she'll be next winter when she's back to 100 percent and has the weight of the world off her shoulders.

Clement announced Monday that she will attend and play basketball for Marist College, the Red Foxes, in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., beginning with the 2014-15 school year. Clement, who demonstrated a penchant for making the big shot as early as her freshman year, has won 64 of 66 games and three Gold Balls during her three high school seasons and isn't finished yet.

Clement said she received scholarship offers from nine schools and that it came down to Marist and Holy Cross, but in the end, she decided to become a Red Fox.

"It just seems like a dream," said Clement, a point guard, who is undecided on a major. "I dreamed to play D1 basketball on scholarship. Marist was my number one choice for awhile. I love their winning tradition and beautiful campus. The gym's always packed. It's a great fit for me."

Clement said she made two visits to Marist and loved the feel of the school community and this past weekend, she and her family made a third visit and surprised the program by announcing she planned to attend. She hopes to step right in and make an impact as a freshman.

"The year I come in, they lose two good guards," Clement said. "Hopefully, that will open up a slot for some playing time. It's a guard-oriented team with a lot of shooters. They like to shoot the 3. It's fun to watch. I'm ready for the challenge."

Marist has won 10 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference titles and has taken part in the NCAA tournament in eight consecutive seasons, developing a reputation for being a giant killer (the Red Foxes lost a close game to national power Michigan State this past March). Coach Brian Giorgis has the fourth-best winning percentage (.775) among all women's basketball coaches. Marist averages 2,000 fans per game, easily the best in its conference and better than all but one men's team in the conference.

"In Poughkeepsie, they say there are only three certainties in life" death, taxes, and a winning women's basketball team at Marist," said Allie's father, Brian Clement.

McAuley coach Billy Goodman feels that Clement will thrive at Marist.

"I'm extremely happy for Allie," Goodman said. "(Marist) is a good school. They're competitive and have great fan support, just like McAuley. I think she'll be very happy there. They've been very interested in her for a long time. When she's healthy, she's unstoppable. She has it all, reach, a great shot, she knows how to attack and plays great defense. Her biggest strength is her mental makeup. She's like a professional. When things get tough, she gets it in another gear. At the end of the day, she's a just a very humble girl. She just wants to play. She wants to win four state titles. Only a few girls have done that."

Don Briggs, Clement's coach with the AAU Maine Firecrackers, also feels that Clement and Marist are a perfect fit.

"I could not be happier for Allie," said Briggs, who coached a team starring Clement to the AAU D2 national championship in 2011. "I've coached Allie since fifth grade and we have over 300 games and 500 practices together. To say I've seen her grow up in this sport is an understatement. Marist has everything she was looking for in a school. Strong academics, committed teammates, a stable and successful program, ability to compete for league championships and play in the NCAAs and last, an incredible basketball atmosphere. This is a proud day for the Clement family. This is a proud day for the Maine Firecracker AAU program and her teammates."

Clement credited her parents, Brian and Carolyn, Briggs, Goodman and former McAuley coach Amy Vachon, along with their assistants, to getting her to this point.

"Everyone has contributed so much," Clement said. "It's so cool to have these people supporting me the entire time."

Clement played her way through a stress fracture/bone bruise in her ankle last season and much to her chagrin, has been sidelined for AAU play. While her foot is still in a walking boot, Clement said it's getting better and that she hopes to be able to play the middle of next month.

Looking ahead, Clement has simple goals for her senior season, in which she'll play with her younger sister, Sarah, for the final time (a third Clement sister, fourth grader, Camille, figures to be a Lions' star in the not-too-distant future).

"I want to be healthy, win a championship and I'd love to win Miss Maine Basketball," Clement said. "McAuley has given me so much. Playing here has done an awesome job preparing me. I'm excited to be done with the college process. Now, I can just have fun."

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.