By Ray Hamill — A strong H-DNL to Oregon Tech connection in basketball just got a little stronger, with the news this week that another Big 5 standout is set to join the Hustlin’ Owls.
Del Norte’s Jadence Clifton, one of the top small school guards in the North Coast Section, has accepted a full athletic scholarship to play for the school, committing earlier this week.
The Warriors senior follows in the footsteps of former Eureka standout Makaila Napoleon, who is a sophomore with the Owls, as well as head coach Scott Meredith, a former College of the Redwoods and Humboldt State assistant coach who has enjoyed plenty of success with the Oregon program.
“It’s a great opportunity, not just for basketball but also to get a good education,” said Clifton, who is still undecided on what major she will pursue “I’m super excited. They seemed very interested.”
Meredith reached out to the dominating Del Norte star, who was co-MVP of the Big 5 as a junior last winter.
And his familiarity with the H-DNL helped put her at ease.
“It was cool talking to him, and him already knowing the Big 5 and all the teams down here,” she said.
Clifton has played a little with Napoleon in the past, and says she is looking forward to joining the former Logger at the NAIA school.
“I played a couple of AAU summer games with her, and against her in my freshman and sophomore years,” Clifton said. “She seems really cool and she’s a great player.”
The dominating point guard, who helped the Warriors to a league title as a sophomore, is likely to switch to play shooting guard or combo guard with the Owls, who have a standout point guard returning this year.
As expected, Clifton received plenty of collegiate interest, but says Oregon Tech just seemed like the best fit for her.
“I couldn’t give up that education,” she said. “It just all seemed to fit right.”
The standout senior still has one season remaining in high school and is hoping to go out with a bang and win another Big 5 championship.
“Definitely my most memorable year was my sophomore year,” she said of the championship-winning season. “Playing with Kaleya Sanchez, that was such a cool year and I wish I could have played with her all four years.”
Sanchez was named league MVP that season and has gone on to play college volleyball at Sierra College, but the two players, who provided a dynamic combo on the basketball court for the Warriors, remain close.
“That’s the best part for me, is all these connections,” Clifton said of her time at Del Norte. “And hopefully we get to finish out this year. I’m definitely looking for another league championship.
“When we won it in my sophomore year, that was so cool and something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
The team leader also likes what she sees from this year’s squad and believes the Warriors can contend again.
“We’ve got some good incoming freshmen and some good ball handlers,” she said. “We’ve got it all.”
For now the season remains up in the air because of COVID-19 restrictions, with the hope they can tip off sometime in the new year.
Either way, another Del Norte standout is headed to the college ranks and that’s good news for Oregon Tech.