Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Clough Commits to RPI

Keene High senior Ashley Clough has had quite the basketball career. She scored 1,000 points, led her team in rebounds and was a two-time Division I all-state selection. She did all of that despite seeing constant double and triple teams during her junior and senior seasons. She led the Blackbirds to the state semi-finals as a sophomore and to the quarterfinals as a senior. Clough was also a member of the NE Shooting Stars 15U AAU National Championship team in 2010.

Clough has recently committed to attend and play basketball at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), a Division III program located in Troy, NY which competes in the Liberty League.

At RPI Clough will be able to play for a winning program (head coach has gone in 10 seasons at the helm), she’ll attend a very good engineering school and she will also play alongside her former middle school teammate Michelle Reid.

“I played with Michelle on my middle school team in Derry for two years before I moved to Keene” Clough told the NH Notebook. “I’m really excited about getting to play with her again in college. This didn't really influence my decision on going to RPI though. However, it did help that I had someone to go to that would answer my questions about the school and basketball program.”

As it should, Clough’s decision can down to much more than just basketball.

“When I visited RPI and saw the campus I just automatically fell in love with it” said the 5-foot-10 guard/forward. “It's the perfect size for me, not too small and not too big, and most important of all its prestigious for its education in engineering. Going to a school like RPI will hopefully set me up for a great future as an engineer and if somewhere along the way I decide I want to pursue some other major I'll have other options at this school as well.”

Clough is a very talented all-around player who played all five positions on the floor while at Keene. She can shoot it from the outside, drive to the rim, pass, defend and rebound. There’s not much weakness in her game and even though the RPI women’s team went 16-10 last year she should be able to step in and contribute right away.

“I'm pretty versatile with positions and I hope to play whatever position is needed of me at RPI” said Clough. “If I had the option to choose though I would play guard.”

There is no question that Clough will leave a legacy behind her at Keene High as one of its great players, on and off the court.

“Ashley Clough is the consummate basketball player, teammate, student, and person” said Eric Matte, who coached Ashley and the rest of her Keene High teammates but stepped down as coach on Monday. “She is humble and loves the game of basketball. She could care less about receiving individual accolades for her hard work and efforts. She has developed into a great basketball player because of her practice habits and time put forth when no one else is in the gym. Most importantly, she is a good person who is positive through good times and bad and always accepts every piece of coaching she can get. And she is FUN to watch play hoop! With regards to her impact on the program, she has helped our team be competitive in a highly competitive division and she has inspired many young females in our city to play the game of basketball.”

While Coach Matte points out Clough’s great attitude, Ashley says she owes a lot of that to him.

“Eric Matte has taught me a lot in my past four years, but I think the most important thing was that he had the biggest influence on me in terms of character” said Clough. “He has truly taught me how to be a leader and just a lot of stuff that has made me a better person and not just a basketball player.”

Ashley points out scoring her 1,000th point and leading her team to the state semi-finals among some of her fondest memories of playing high school basketball.

“The memories that stick out to me most are games that we had a good fan section” explained Clough. “No other school in our division gets nearly the amount of fans that we get at our games, especially our home playoff games and senior night. Our fans do a great job creating an atmosphere that just makes you want to work 10x harder the whole game. I loved it in past years when they had a huge wooden board they would put in the front row and bang on during the other team’s free throws. But unfortunately it broke last year, so chants and posters had to do for his past season.”

“Games that I have the best memories of are my 1,000th point game this year at the finals of our Christmas tournament” Clough continued. “I'll never forget scoring my 1,000th point in overtime and it was one of the most exciting games of the season in general. Also, making it to the Final Four my sophomore year was another big feat for our Keene High team in my four years. It was quite a journey to get to that point so it was nice to get a chance to play at SNHU”.

In addition to Coach Matte, Ashley also notes her family and AAU coaches as people who also played large roles in helping her to get to where she is.

“I've had a ton of coaches and all of them I learned so much from and where great influences” said Clough. “My dad and brother have been helping me since I was little, both having played in college and I learned most of my fundamentals and post moves from them. Dennis Reed is another coach that really influenced me. I went to his camps at the Sports Zone for years along with playing on his AAU team. My ball handling skills most definitely came from him along with a lot of other things. He especially improved my defense and understanding of full court presses. And then there's Scott Hazelton who really helped me just take my game to the next level.”

Between the Shooting Stars in 2010 and the Rivals in 2011, Clough played on two of the best girls basketball teams our area has seen in a LONG time.

“Playing with the Rivals helped me in so many ways” explained Clough. “Scott was amazing to learn from and really motivated me to work as hard as I could every minute of the game and at practices. I really improved all aspects of my game over the summer playing with Rivals. Playing with the players on our team I learned something new from each of them and was able to better myself just by playing with really talented basketball players. It was a great experience for me, and you couldn't ask for more exposure. There were always a good group of coaches watching at all of the tournaments we went to and Scott was really great at getting coaches of schools you were interested in at taking a look at you.”

Ashley simply has a passion for the game of basketball and a great work ethic, which she hopes to pass down to younger players coming up.

“My biggest motivator as a player is just my love for the sport” Clough concluded. “I've always had so much fun playing it so I really don't ever want to lose track of that. I’m working as a camp counselor over the summer and I'm looking forward to showing them how fun sports can be. I'm hoping I can make it fun for them so sports can have a good influence on them as it did me.”

Words like that are refreshing to hear from a student-athlete. Congratulations to Ashley, and we wish her the best of luck at RPI!

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