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Extending careers

Clarion's Olivia Boocks, an A-C Valley graduate, drives to the hoop against Slippery Rock's Daeja Quick during a recent game. Seb Foltz/Butler Eagle
KC’s Hegedus, A-C Valley’s Boocks vital part of Clarion basketball

CLARION — Both were outstanding high school girls basketball players and solid scorers for their respective high school teams.

Emily Hegedus graduated from Karns City as the Gremlins’ all-time leading scorer with 1,735 points. Olivia Boocks graduated from A-C Valley with 960 points as a consistent double-digit point producer.

Now both are integral parts of the Clarion University women’s basketball team, but in ways other than putting the ball in the basket.

“They bring a toughness, a work ethic that this area just embodies,” Clarion coach Jana Ashley said. “They excel at their roles. Both are 4.0 students and they’re excellent teammates.”

The Golden Eagles were only 2-10 through 12 games, 1-6 in conference play. Hegedus was a starter for a couple of years, but is spending her senior season coming off the bench. She’s averaging 16 minutes and 3.4 points per game.

Clarion's Emily Hegedus, a Karns City graduate, looks to pass during a recent game at Slippery Rock. Seb Foltz/Butler Eagle

And she relishes her role.

“I became a starter halfway through my freshman year,” Hegedus said. “Coming off the bench, my role has definitely changed. I come into games looking to create a spark, make a play.

“More importantly, I’m a senior and I try to be a good leader for the younger players, on and off the court. I want to help them develop their game.”

Hegedus scored a season-high 12 points against Penn State Shenango.

Besides graduate student Neely Whitehead, Hegedus is the lone senior on Clarion’s roster.

Boocks is a junior guard and a first-year starter. She’s scored in double digits in four games this season — a high of 13 against Concord — but averages 6.3 points per game while playing an average of 29 minutes.

“Defense is the biggest part of my game right now,” Boocks said. “I can contribute offensively, but I’m more about slowing down the opposition.

“Coming from a small school, it took a couple of years for the game at this level to slow down for me. Every player on the floor at this level was the star player of her high school team. Everybody scored a lot of points then. Roles change when you get to college ball.”

Ashley said the two “set a wonderful example for our underclassmen. Both are all about the team. They care about team success and the future of the program.”

Both players considered other schools before opting to attend Clarion. Hegedus looked at Wheeling Jesuit, Indiana (Pa.) and Slippery Rock while Boocks considered Westminster, Slippery Rock and Geneva, the latter for volleyball.

“I’ve never regretted coming here,” Hegedus said of Clarion. “The relationships I’ve built at Clarion will last for years.”

“I like the young talent assembled on this team,” Boocks said. “I really believe we can turn the corner next year.”

Boocks will be a senior then. Hegedus has another year of eligibility with the Golden Eagles, but is not taking it. She doesn’t plan on leaving basketball, however.

Majoring in education, Hegedus is scheduled to graduate in May.

“My goal is to become a high school teacher,” she said. “I definitely want to coach, either in college or high school. Ideally, I’ll become a basketball coach at whatever school I’m teaching at.

“I guess my role on this year’s team is somewhat preparing me for that change.”

Ashley doesn’t think Hegedus will have any trouble getting into the coaching side of the game.

“She’s impressed me this year, the way she’s handled everything,” the coach said. “Emily is a true leader.”