LUMBERTON — For Marlena McClure, taking the jump to a new school helped prepare her to make a big step.
In coming to Lumberton to play basketball her senior season, McClure said it helped her fulfill a dream she has had since she was young. McClure signed with Guilford College on Tuesday, to join teammate Jasmine McBride next season in Greensboro.
“Coming from a small town and a small school not really getting a lot of looks at East Columbus, to come to a 4-A big school, you get more looks and it helps,” McClure said.
After transferring in to Lumberton from East Columbus, McClure made her impact immediately felt as that missing hole in the starting five for Lumberton on the wing. McClure averaged 9.5 points and 4.2 rebounds per game and was a deep threat for Lumberton with 21 3-pointers this season for the Lady Pirates that when 27-2 and made it to the fourth round of the state playoffs.
“I said since I was little that I wanted to go play basketball at the next level,” McClure said. “It feels good.”
Lumberton coach Danny Graham knew of McClure before she joined the program this season and found the right fit for her in his system, and the combination worked well with the Lady Pirates with her ability to play different positions.
“They’re getting a player that really understands the game,” Graham said. “She understands the game from positions one through five. Marlena’s knowledge of the game is one of her strongest points.”
“Graham stayed on me and made sure everyday that I was doing what I needed to do,” McClure said.
McClure said making the jump to the next level is a whole lot easier knowing that she has a teammate she shared time with in the backcourt in McBride. The duo has been playing together on the same AAU team since the 10th grade.
“Jasmine is like my little big sister,” McClure said. “We talk on a daily basis and we’re going to room together.”
“To have two that sign with the same school is real unique,” Graham said. “It’s great that they both are going to be there and they can rely on each other.”
When meeting with the Guilford coaches, McClure saw a similarity between what the program wants from its players and something she was taught at a young age.
“My Daddy coached me when I was younger and his motto was defense and her’s (Guilford coach Stephanie Flamini) is too so basically I’m just carrying it on,” McClure said.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.