PORTLAND — Allie Clement has known for a while where she stood. Monday she let everyone else know.
Clement, a junior point guard from McAuley High in Portland, verbally committed to play at Marist College, a Division I school in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., with a tradition of winning.
Clement had been offered scholarships by at least eight Division I schools, including Holy Cross, Hartford, Boston College, Boston University and Rhode Island.
“I visited and talked to a lot of coaches, I don’t even know how many’’ said Clement in a phone interview Monday, as she returned from Poughkeepsie where she personally gave Coach Brian Giorgis the news. “I did my homework. Marist is the place I felt I fit in best. I’m very happy with my decision.
“They have great fan support, like at McAuley. They get huge crowds. I went there and felt that was where I should be.”
Clement, who averaged 17 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.7 steals and 2.6 assists last year, has helped McAuley to three consecutive Class A state championships. The Lions will take a 48-game winning streak into her senior year and are 64-2 in her three seasons.
“This takes off a lot of pressure,” she said. “Your senior year is supposed to be about fun. I still have goals I want to accomplish. I want to win a fourth state championship. It’s nice to know that’s the only pressure I have now.”
Marist has won 10 consecutive regular-season championships in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and has appeared in eight consecutive NCAA tournaments. Giorgis has a .775 winning percentage (251-73) for the Red Foxes – the fourth-best in the NCAA behind Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma, Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer and Baylor’s Kim Mulkey.
Those stats weren’t lost on Clement.
“The biggest thing for me that separated Marist from other schools is its winning tradition,” said Clement. “I’m used to that. I’ve been very fortunate that between McAuley and the Firecrackers, I haven’t lost that much.”
Clement, who was the Maine Gatorade Player of the Year and the Maine Sunday Telegram Player of the Year last winter, plays for the Maine Firecrackers, which won the AAU Division 2 national championship in 2011.
“Marist,” said Brian Clement, her father, “is an obvious next step from that (winning) culture. It’s such a good fit for her.”
Don Briggs, who has coached Clement on AAU teams since the fifth grade, added that “Marist has everything she was looking for in a school,” citing its academic programs and strong support for the women’s team.
Clement first noticed Marist when, after her freshman season, she and former McAuley teammate Rebecca Knight went down to Duke University to watch Clement’s aunt, Joanne P. McCallie, coach in the NCAA tournament. Duke’s opponent in the first round was Marist, and Clement sat behind the Marist bench, along with her cousin, Maddie McCallie, and Knight. The Red Foxes led most of the way, losing in the final minute.
“It’s sort of an ironic experience,’’ said McCallie on Monday. “That was an incredible battle. Brian does a terrific job, has a wonderful staff and program. I was impressed with the way they played and the way they carried themselves. I’ve always felt it was a great program.”
When she heard that Marist was recruiting her niece, McCallie hoped Clement would land there.
“It’s neat to see the whole thing come to fruition,” said McCallie. “It’s a great story, great for kids to see. If you can keep your focus and work hard, neat things can happen.”
Clement is still recovering from a stress fracture that hindered her throughout the high school season and has prevented her from playing AAU ball.
She is back to wearing a plastic walking boot on her right foot. She tried jogging recently but had to stop because the foot still hurt.
“I’m going to wait a little while,” she said. “Hopefully I can play in a little bit and we’ll see how that feels. I don’t want to rush it. If I come back too early that’s pointless and I’ll have to sit out longer. Coach Giorgis has been very supportive. He’s told me to rest it and take my time.”
Giorgis cannot comment on Clement’s decision until he receives her signedLetter of Intent, which will happen next fall. But she didn’t want to keep him waiting. Clement and her family made the five-hour trip to Poughkeepsie over the weekend to surprise him with the news.
“When I told him I got a big hug,” she said. “It’s cool to be wanted like that and see that kind of reaction.”
Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org