ETBU’s women’s basketball team will be home for the first time since Saturday, Feb. 1 when Kendrick Clark fired a shot heard around the world of sports.
There were about six minutes left in the game when Clark and her Tigers were playing host to LeToruneau when the shot clock was down to its final seconds.
“It’s kind of funny because if you watch the very beginning of the play, I’m on the wing and I pass it up and I almost cause a turnover,” Clark recalls of the play. “One of the LeTourneau girls tipped the ball and then after that, there were about four of my teammates who dove on the floor to try to get the ball back and through all that chaos, I saw Kaia (Williams). She ended up with the ball in her hands, so I just started running to the corner and then she chunked it over there and luckily I got the shot off.”
Nothing but net.
“Wow, holy smokes,” ETBU women’s assistant basketball coach Caleb Henson said when asked how he reacted to the play. “I think I had a fist bump or whatever. It was really a remarkable stroke of luck because really, we pretty much had two turnovers before all that. Sometimes you just need to hustle to make big plays and have a little bit of luck. Our kids were working hard, diving on the floor to hold possession and somehow we got lucky at the end. It was a lot of fun.”
“It felt terrible,” Clark said of the release. “I felt like I just chunked it up.”
She added she was shocked to see the ball go into the net.
“I was just like, ‘Oh my gosh,’ she said. “I just remember looking at my teammate, April (Matthews) and my mouth was wide open. She was like, ‘Good job, good job, now we need to get back on defense.’”
Clark’s shot became a hot topic of discussion, especially after being named the No.1 play of the night on SportsCenter.
“Right after the game, our coaches’ wives were saying how much it had an impact on the game and how momentum completely turned right then. They said, ‘We should see if we can get that on SportsCenter. I sent it to our SIDs and they started working on it,” Henson said.
“I thought it might get No. 10 or No. 9 but I never thought it would bet No. 1, or No. 2 for the week for that matter,” he added.
“Once again, shock,” Clark said when asked how she reacted when seeing the play on ESPN. “I did not think it would get to that point but it was fun. I’m glad they showed all of the play and we were able to see all of our other girls diving on the floor and putting in effort to get the ball for us.
“The first week of school after that, everyone was talking about it,” she continued. “At my church, they played the video of it that Sunday morning. Lots of people were excited about it, so that was cool.”
It’s probably safe to say that’s the biggest highlight on the court for Clark and her Tigers but it’s also just one of many. ETBU currently holds an overall record of 16-5 and an American Southwest Conference record of 10-2.
Clark said the keys to her team’s success so far this season are their “togetherness and faith.”
“We know we have an opportunity to do something really special,” she offered. “We’re all just doing what we can do get spiritually, mentally and physically prepared so that in the big moments coming up, we’re able to hit those shots and make those plays.”
The senior is in her second and final year at ETBU after transferring from Wayland Baptist University. Before transferring to ETBU however, she thought she was done with basketball.
“I was actually planning on quitting basketball entirely and I was just going to go to a school and pursue school pathology but after I quit at Wayland, my coach had called coach Henson and was like, ‘Hey, Kendrick just quit and she’s looking for speech pathology. I don’t think she should stop playing basketball.’ Coach Henson actually recruited me out of high school when he was at Lubbock Christian, so he already kind of knew about me. So he contacted me 20 minutes after I quit at Wayland. So then I came on my visit and I just loved it here.”
She said her game has improved a lot since her junior year.
“I’d say the coaches have helped me a lot on driving the ball instead of just being a shooter,” she explained. “I think last year and the beginning of this year, I was getting a lot of threes and stuff. People have noticed that I’m a shooter so finding new ways to score other than on the three-point line has helped me improve.”
“She’s gotten better in year two, being able to drive the ball and go off and rebound,” Henson added of Clark. “She’s wonderful academically and she’s a great teammate. She doesn’t have a lot of holes or flaws in who she is as a player or a person.”
Basketball has taught Clark lessons that beyond Xs and Os.
“I would say this year specifically it’s just persistence and commitment, realizing that once you’re in something to stick through all the things that might come your way,” she said. “There will always be obstacles and trials but if you’re able to stick with it and get through all that, there’s always a blessing at the end of it, whether that’s winning a game or getting engaged or whatever it is.”
Clark is speaking from experience as she recently got engaged to Westin Riddick, a member of ETBU’s men’s basketball team.
When asked what was more shocking between seeing ball going into the net, or the seeing the ring, Clark answered, “That’s a tough one. I don’t know, probably the ring.”
She’s hopeful of getting another ring – a conference championship ring.
Until then though, she and her Tigers have four conference games left, two of which are this week at home. ETBU is slated to play host to Mary Hardin-Baylor tonight at 5:30 p.m. and then Concordia Saturday at 1 p.m.