Desiree Ray reaches 1,000 rebounds, continues to be a force inside of paint for the Clearview Clippers

MORNING JOURNAL/SAM GREENE Clippers’ Desiree Ray directs her teammates during last Saturday’s game against Fairview.

MORNING JOURNAL/SAM GREENE Desiree Ray clutches an offensive rebound last Saturday against Fairview.

MORNING JOURNAL/SAM GREENE Clippers’ Desiree Ray, right, takes a shot during the fourth quarter against Fairview last Saturday at Clearview High School.

Tim Duncan, Kevin Love, Tyson Chandler, Dwight Howard ...

These are just a few of the names of those NBA players who have made their living inside the paint.

All great rebounders. All double-double machines.

Much like Clearview’s Desiree Ray, who for the past four years has been a force down low — scoring at will and always ready to clean up a missed shot.

It’s no wonder she’s one of the top post players in Lorain County.

Last season she averaged a double-double with 12.8 points and 13.1 rebounds per game.

This season, same story.

Through 21 games — which the Clippers are 17-4 — Ray is averaging 13.1 points and 13.3 rebounds per game. She has 17 double-doubles, seven more than she had all of last season.

In a 61-39 win over Bay on Monday, Ray grabbed her 1,000th rebound.

“She’s been a driving force for four years,” Clearview coach Nick Dimmachia said. “It’s nice for her to reach that goal as an individual so that she has some sense of accomplishment of her hard work. To be able to reach that goal and to be able to put up the numbers she does under the pressure she’s under is very commendable.”

In her career she has 823 points, 1,009 rebounds and 241 steals.

Although reaching 1,000 rebounds was never on Ray’s list of personal goals, the milestone means a great deal to her.

“It’s just exciting that I can leave something here at Clearview and come back and see my ball in the showcase,” Ray said. “It means a lot.”

Oh, she blocks shots, too — lots of them.

Ray has exactly 100 blocks this season, blocking about five shots per game. For her career — 383 blocks and counting.

Opponents aren’t averaging just 36.2 points per game against Clearview for nothing. Ray’s presence alone has teams thinking twice before they drive to the basket.

“When she’s in that post teams know how good she is,” Dimacchia said. “They double and triple team her and it’s very frustrating for a high school girl to get in there and really not be able to get any shots off.”

Dimacchia always catches himself on the bench having a ‘Wow’ moment when watching Ray play. And it’s not just this season, either.

“I’ve been saying that for four years,” he said. “The way she plays is so graceful, it’s almost like it’s effortless. She’s so smooth and graceful and some of the moves she puts on out there ... still, four years later I’m amazed.

“She’s a great kid and she works extremely hard and I’m very proud of her accomplishments, and I’m very proud of everything that she’s done for Clearview basketball and her teammates.”

Including sophomore Angel Blakely, who has been a nice addition to Ray. Blakely is second on the Clippers in scoring with 12 points per game. She’s dished out 128 assists and has racked up 125 steals.

“When she first got here I felt like I’ve been playing with her a lot longer than that,” Ray said. “She brings something to the team that we didn’t have before she came here. It’s really fun playing with her.”

Dimacchia and his staff have been working hard on Blakely for two years.

“Angel’s really growing into her own,” Dimacchia said. “The last couple of weeks I’ve really started to see a change in Angel that I’m really liking.”

On Saturday, Ray and her teammates won a Patriot Athletic Conference Stripes Division championship with a 43-40 win over Fairview. It was the Clippers’ first conference title since 2008.

Winning conference was one of the team’s goals this season.

The other?

Making a deep postseason run — something that hasn’t come easy for Clearview over the years. The Clippers haven’t won a postseason game since the 2007-08 season when they knocked off Brookside but lost to Holy Name in the sectional final, a year before Dimacchia took over.

Clearview won 16 games last season and earned the No. 4 seed in the Division II District tournament, but lost to Bay, 57-31, in the second round after taking a bye in the first round.

“We’ve been a little unlucky in the tournament in terms of our draw and who we had to play,” Dimacchia said. “We got stuck with Bay last year and they stuck it to us. They were a solid team last year and they’re a good team this year. (My girls) didn’t really enjoy losing the way they did because we had a pretty good season last year.”

The Clippers have one more win than they had last year and are hoping an early exit this season isn’t in their future.

“I think we’re more confident this year going into the tournament because I think the way we’ve been playing this year is a lot better than last year,” Ray said.

And Ray would like nothing more than to go deep in the tournament.

“It would mean a lot because this is something our team’s been wanting since I started playing varsity as a sophomore,” she said. “Now that I’m a senior I would really love to end my senior year by going far in the tournament.

“We’re nervous, but I think Saturday’s game against Amherst is really going to get us ready for the tournament.”

After their season-finale against the Comets, the Clippers will head into the tournament and wait the winner of Bay/Fairview for a chance at a sectional title.

And whichever team Clearview ends up playing, Dimmachia is confident his team will be ready.

“This year was the first year that most of my girls were kind of focused on the seeding draw is picked,” Dimacchia said. “They wanted to know what was going on and what we needed to do to prepare for it. The last two games they’ve been playing that way. They’ve been preparing themselves for the tournament and I just hope they can keep it up.”

@PaulBarney18

Last Updated: 2/14/2013 11:11:00 PM EST

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