Star Students Proudly Sponsored by Don Clarke State Farm: Jack Clarke
By Ty Walker, Contributing Writer | Photos courtesy of Kassie Clarke
For the Lakeridge High School basketball team, there’s only one way to go from here. That way is up. The Pacers are going into the season with high hopes, despite being winless in the Three Rivers League over the past six years with a record of 0–33. They have a positive outlook as they aim to turn things around in 2023–24.
A major part of that change in attitude figures to be first-year varsity forward Jack Clarke. The 6-foot-6 junior is Lake Oswego Lifestyle magazine’s Star Students selection for December.
The power forward said he’s excited to get things started this season. He’s ready to play a key role in surprising the naysayers. “We should be a lot better,” Clarke said. “I’m excited to show some people that we’re actually a good team. Everybody thinks since we’ve lost so many games, they’re counting us out. But I think we’re going to have a really good season.” Clarke has reason to believe Lakeridge will improve this year. The team is eager to show that it’s for real.
He’s coming off a promising summer club season during which he took his game to a new level, scoring nine points and grabbing seven rebounds a game. He played a major part in helping his AAU traveling team Players Only win tournaments around the country.
“He made some huge strides over summer playing for an elite AAU team,” Lakeridge first-year Head Coach Jimmy Watts said. “They did some great things there and he was one of the major scorers.”
Clarke’s contribution to an experienced varsity lineup should put more games in the win column for Lakeridge. Add to that a new coach with a positive attitude and the community’s support, and the future looks bright.
“We have a new coach,” Clarke said. “Everybody likes him. Everybody has a better mindset than previous years. We’re going into it a lot more confident and with a lot higher expectations. Everybody’s working together. We have really good team chemistry.”
The “Twin Towers” of Clarke and 6-foot-8 senior Cole Holum are expected to be a go-to force for the Pacers. They also boast a talented backcourt crew of guards with good size. “We call them our Twin Towers,” Watts said. “They’re kids that can take up space. They’re both long and can play above the rim. A lot of our guards are 6-foot-4-plus.”
The coach had a lot of good things to say about Clarke’s strengths on the basketball court. He is developing the skills that you want in a good power forward.
“He’s a scorer, rebounder, shot blocker, very active around the net,” Watts said. “He’s got great footwork. He knows how to use his body to create shots for himself.”
Here’s how Clarke describes his role on the team. “I try to work as hard as I can inside,” Clarke said. “I try to rebound and help my teammates. I’m the big man I guess.”
Clarke credits his mother for encouraging him to play basketball when he was younger. “My mom actually played and got me into it at a young age,” he said. “I started focusing on it and really loving it. I just love the game.”
This winter he’s focused on making Lakeridge a winning team. He’s confident the Pacers are capable of beating any team in the league. “We have a good chance of beating every team,” Clarke said.
Or as Coach Watts said, “It’s only up from here, hopefully.”