Despite helping Sand Creek to its most wins in team history last season, Dylan Clark felt as if he had regressed in the scoring department. Almost everything went right for the Scorpions in a 23-3 season that ended in the 4A quarterfinals.
That is, except Clark's long-range jump shot.
"Last year, I had one of the worst shooting years of my life," Clark said. "I made it a point in the summer to work on my shot, especially my 3-pointer."
That hard work has translated into a fast start to the 2013-14 season for Clark. The point guard scored 59 points in two games last week in leading the Scorpions to victories over Pine Creek and Pueblo South.
But more encouraging was Clark's shooting. He connected on 15-of-25 field goals, including 9 of 16 in the 3-point department. While he may not be able to keep up a 56-percent clip for long, the early success has given Clark added confidence in his long-range game.
Last season, Clark averaged 10.9 points, but his 3-point percentage dipped to 33 percent after he drained 44 percent from beyond the arc his sophomore season.
"It's a huge difference after working hard this summer," Clark said. "I started lifting more and came back more athletic and bigger. But I mainly spent my time shooting."
Even fourth-year Scorpions coach Joseph Rausch noticed a more accurate and assertive floor general for the new season.
"He worked like crazy and has made a big change," Rausch said. "Last year, we had so many more weapons, he focused on other parts of his game, but his 3-point percentage was way down. He's the shooter now like he was his first two seasons."
On Dec. 3, Clark helped Sand Creek erase a six-point halftime deficit against Pueblo South to win its 13th straight home game. Last year's squad was barely pushed in early-season action, winning seven of eight nonleague games by double digits heading into league play.
"We were really resilient and played with a lot of heart," said Clark, one of only two returning starters. "They were destroying us on our home court. It was nice to see that we could fight through that."
Clark plans on staying close to home after graduation, committing to the Air Force Academy, following in both of his parents' footsteps.
Making that early commitment should keep Clark's mind and focus on leading his Scorpions back to the Denver Coliseum in March and perhaps a step or two farther.
"I don't have to worry about the recruiting process through my senior season," Clark said. "That way, I can focus on school and basketball."
Kevin Carmody, The Gazette