Cougars' Bryant creates worthy legacy
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on March 28, 2004 2:07 AM
Most players begin their high school careers with hopes and dreams of leaving their mark at their respective school.
Goldsboro senior Clintoria Bryant is one of those special players who will be remembered for years, even generations into the future.
Lady Cougars' coach Gladys McClary admits she is a little picky when it comes to placing individual players on a pedestal. To her and many others, Bryant is worthy of such praise.
"A player has to be exceptionally good to impress me, and I was impressed with Clintoria because she played a championship caliber of basketball that very few ladies play at the high school level," McClary said. "She's going to be missed and spoken of for years to come. She deserves that."
In Bryant's last two years, the Lady Cougars went an astonishing 53-7. Fans usually witnessed a handful of show-stopping plays from the five-foot-nine guard in most of those games.
Maybe it was an eye-popping, no-look assist to her favorite target, Jessica Faison, that led to a layup. Or one of her patented, pull-up 3-pointers from well behind the arch that swished nothing but net and dwindled any idea of the other team coming back.
Even a key steal on the defensive end and a pass ahead to fellow guard Chevoya Jackson that sparked one of Goldsboro's many runs that often crushed the opposition.
Bryant possessed the uncanny ability to do all of these things, sometimes doing them all within moments of each other.
More importantly, as the lone senior starter on a team full of talent, she molded into the team's leader and helped guide them to back-to-back Class 3-A eastern regional berths and a 29-2 record in her final season.
For all of this, Bryant is the 2003-04 News-Argus girls basketball Player of the Year.
As a senior, Bryant averaged 15 points and four assists per game on her way to being named the ECC Player of the Year. She particularly shined in a pair of conference road wins. She tallied 22 points and pulled down 10 rebounds at Washington. In a battle at second-place Kinston, Bryant poured in 21 points and dished out eight assists.
The ability to put up these numbers obviously didn't happen overnight.
She worked hard in the offseason at camps with McClary and her Goldsboro teammates and also honed her skills playing AAU basketball in Clinton for Dorian Williams.
McClary remembers Bryant making the varsity team as a freshman and coming through with big shots early in her career when she came into the game off the bench. Each year, her talent level and leadership ability continued to climb as she stepped into a starting role as a junior.
"I had to learn to lead the team by example. Coach told me that I had to be the leader this year," Bryant said. "I tried to teach Chevoya (Jackson) how to lead because she's going to have to be the leader when I leave."
McClary believes the biggest strides she made over the past several years have been in her court vision and passing ability.
In her final game in the regional finals, Bryant was clearly off her game. She finished without a field goal in a heart-breaking loss to Southern Durham, and admits the crowd got in her head after a few misses.
On the surface, it seems as if this game would in no way benefit her career. Looking back on it, Bryant does believe it can prepare her for the next level as she is leaning toward taking her all-around game to Louisburg College in the fall.
"With the crowd thing, I know when I go to college I'll be ready for another crowd like that," Bryant said. "Plus it will show the rest of them how to handle it when they make it back next year."
Taking care of the future.
A true sign of a leader.
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