There was never a doubt Allie Clement would play basketball.

Her aunt is Joanne P. McCallie, the former University of Maine and current Duke University head coach who grew up in Brunswick. Her father Brian and mother Carolyn are passionate about the game. Her older cousin, Maddie McCallie, is a Division I player at Miami (Ohio) University.

Even Clement’s childhood babysitter was Sarah Marshall, the former McAuley and Boston College star.

“My family is definitely a basketball family,” Clement said.

Really, the question was whether Clement wanted to work hard enough to be special.

Obviously the answer was yes.

For the second straight year Clement, a 5-foot-9 senior guard at McAuley High and a Falmouth resident, was named the Maine Sunday Telegram girls’ basketball player of the year.

The choice isn’t a shock, although Lake Region senior center Tiana-Jo Carter was an equally worthy contender.

Clement is also a two-time Gatorade player of the year, was named Miss Maine Basketball, led McAuley to a fourth straight Class A championship, and in the fall will begin her college career at Marist in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Marist advanced to its ninth consecutive NCAA tournament this season.

Clement’s path to excellence included injury issues. After struggling with a stress fracture in her foot as a junior, Clement was still experiencing pain. She had arthroscopic surgery on her ankle in October and missed almost all of the preseason.

“It was kind of like January when she started to feel comfortable, when you could see she was fluid and explosive,” Coach Bill Goodman said.

Clement averaged 18.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 3.2 steals as McAuley went 21-1. Along the way she scored her 1,000th career point.

Prior to the only loss, a midseason 50-49 setback at Thornton Academy, McAuley had won 56 straight games. In the loss, McAuley uncharacteristically panicked when an inspired Thornton team rallied from a 34-19 third-quarter deficit.

“Things took a turn for the worse and we really didn’t know how to respond, and it opened our eyes,” Clement said.

“Because we hadn’t lost in so long, it was such a big deal and we didn’t deserve to win that game. Thornton worked for it more and they wanted it more badly than we did. If we had walked out with a win, I don’t think we would have analyzed it as much and learned from it. If we had won that game we wouldn’t have become the team we did after that loss.”

In both the Western Maine final against Windham and the state final against Oxford Hills, McAuley started slowly. This time there was no panic.

Against Windham, Clement’s 11 third-quarter points (en route to 23) keyed the Lions to a 50-30 win.

In the state final, with Clement and All-Telegram picks Victoria Lux and Olivia Smith each picking up two first-quarter fouls, Oxford Hills led by as many as eight points and trailed by just two with 7.6 seconds left in the half. When a jump ball gave possession to McAuley, Clement came off the bench, took the inbounds pass, dribbled past half court and hit a long 3-pointer.

In the third quarter, Clement went 4 for 4 with two 3-pointers and combined with Olivia Dalphonse to repeatedly force turnovers.

“She’s gotten better every year,” Goodman said.

The process of becoming a top basketball player took a definitive step when Clement was in the seventh grade.

“That’s when I decided I really wanted to go for it,” Clement said.

A key element, practiced with her father, was to develop the ability to shoot a legitimate jump shot.

“At first it was horrible,” Clement said of those early lessons. “I told my dad, ‘I know it’s going to be hard at times and you’re going to push me and I want you to push me.’ ”

The jumper is now a defining part of Clement’s game.

“One of the biggest things that set her apart is her quickness, that and her ability to shoot off the catch and the dribble,” Windham Coach Brody Artes said. “Her ability to pull up with a pure jump shot is something we just don’t see very often in Maine.”

Goodman and McAuley benefited from Clement’s skills. What the coach really appreciated, he said, was Clement’s positive attitude, her day-in, day-out passion for the game, and that she always remained a willing student.

“The coaches that coached her in the (McDonald’s) all-star game were all bragging about what a great kid, a great player she is. She impressed them in just two days,” Goodman said.

Wells Coach Don Abbott was on the McDonald’s staff.

“Right away she was the leader of all these girls that were the best players on their team,” Abbott said.

Abbott recalled how as one practice was nearing its end, Clement’s group was on the bench.

“She came up and said, ‘Coach, can we go one more?’ It’s a practice and you can tell most of the girls are pretty much done but she didn’t want to be on the bench when the practice ended,” Abbott said. “She just has a wonderful youthful exuberance for the game. With all the accolades she’s received, she just views herself as a kid who loves basketball.”

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at:

scraig@pressherald.com

Twitter: SteveCCraig