Athlete of the Week: Clayton Girls Basketball

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CLAYTON, Wis. (WEAU) -- Seven losses in 4 seasons: not a bad basketball resume for a senior class. But what about 8 state tournament appearances at the Resch Center? Four in volleyball and 4 in basketball: this group of Clayton senior girls has accomplished that feat and is heading to state for the final time. The group is our Osseo Automotive Athlete of the Week. SportScene 13’s Neil Hebert reports.

Clayton, Wisconsin, population 571: a small town with an extensive history of athletic success.

“These seniors are hungry: a job not complete yet,” Kevin Fall, Clayton girls basketball head coach, said. “They want to bring back a ball to Clayton.”

Three straight WIAA state basketball appearances: all of them ending in losses in the semifinal. The seniors on this Bears squad think there’s work left to do.

“There’s been a lot of motivation going into this year just saying we’ve never made it past semifinals,” Kiana Fall, a senior guard who’s played in all 8 state tournaments, said. “We’ve come super close.”

“I think the expectations are a little higher. We’ve been there. We’ve had the feeling,” Kennedy Patrick, a senior guard for the Bears, said. “We’re hungry for the games.”

They’ve tallied over 100 wins in their 4 seasons on the hardwood.

“They’re conference record in basketball is 46-2. They were conference champs three out of the four years. They’re overall record is 103-7,” Kevin Fall said. “It sounds like an amazing resume, but I don’t think they’re done yet.”

Their compiled success comes with not just hard work, but having a tightknit group off the floor.

“Obviously, a small school, a lot of the classes we take are the same. We’re in the classroom together, we’re in the gym together, the locker room. We’re friends outside of school, so at home, we’re hanging out together,” Kiana Fall said.

“I’m definitely going to miss high school sports with these girls seeing that they’re like my best friends,” Jaedyn Bussewitz, a senior guard, said. “It’s going to be hard once it’s over, but we know we did it for the best.”

Four years of success culminates with one last state appearance, but it’s much more than that for this group that represents the small community in Western Wisconsin.

“I don’t think they realize what they’ve done,” Kevin Fall said. “I think someday, they’ll leave here and look back at all the records and all the trophies that have been put in the trophy case. They might realize it. We’re just enjoying the heck out of it.

“We talk about putting banners on the wall and then 20 years from now, coming back to Clayton and saying, ‘I was part of that team.’ Just saying that you’re a part of something bigger than yourself is what it’s all about. That’s what we’re all here for,” Kiana Fall said.

The Bears will take on Wausau Newman Catholic on Friday in the Division 5 semifinal at 10:45am at the Resch Center in Green Bay.