Panthers winning on and off the basketball court

Submitted photo

By Ray Hamill — You know you’ve got a winning combination when you’re succeeding on and off the court, and that’s exactly what’s happening at Mack High.

After a big season in boys basketball, the Panthers have now been recognized for their achievements in the classroom, earning a North Coast Section Scholastic Championship Team Award for Winter 2022.

Head coach Cindy Semore Clancy admits she was pleasantly surprised when she received the news, but it wasn’t a total shock, and looking back she believes her team’s collective intelligence played a big part in the the Panthers’ success this past season.

“Thinking back about this team, we were putting in at least one new play every week, and I think part of our success can be attributed to their ability to pick up and retain the new plays,” she said.

The Mack boys pushed Arcata all the way to the final week of league play and finished tied for second in the Big 5 while also reaching the Dick Niclai championship game.

The Panthers also won an NCS playoff game and closed out the season with an impressive record of 16-9.

And a key part of that success was the players ability to rake care of their business from an academic standpoint.

“One of the things I didn’t have to worry about was them doing their work in the classroom,” the head coach said. “I was so proud of them.”

The NCS scholastic awards go to the three teams in each division with the highest collective GPA.

The Panthers have two players with a GPA of 4.0, two more with a 3.85 and four more with a 3.5 or better.

And it’s an award the team is proud of.

“I think it goes to show we’re building a program that focuses on the student athlete, and not just the accomplishments on the court, but in the classroom as well,” Semore Clancy said.

The head coach admits that returning to coaching at the high school level for the first time in two decades had its challenges this past winter, especially during the pandemic and all the restrictions and logistical problems that presented.

But she says that a “great support system” and all the help she received from parents paved the way for the team’s success.

The Panthers will graduate eight seniors from this year’s team, but retain a core group of talented players, who are already working towards next season.

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