BY D’ARCY PATRICK EGAN
The season has ended for most all the Port Clinton High School basketball team, but not for star guard Da’Cariya (DC) Lanier. She’s been invited to travel 9,473 miles — an 18-hour airline journey as the crow flies — to test her International cage skills against students from around the globe in an Acis educational and athletic exchange.
Thanks to donations from her many friends and admirers around Port Clinton, Lanier will be able to afford the journey to enjoy the unusual 10-day
adventure on June 5-15. Lanier says she’s “nervous but excited” about the challenge.
The 5-2, 125-pound junior guard, who averaged 20.7 points and four rebounds in helping push the Redskins girls to a 15-8 season, their best in years, Lanier is also overwhelmed by the largesse of her friends and neighbors — and the Fraternal Order of Eagles in Port Clinton — as well as her grandfather, John Moore, who is retired from the Port Clinton Water Department, and mother, La’Toya Pearson, a scheduler at Magruder Hospital.
Kevin Belden, her coach, is pleased, but not surprised.
“DC is a gym rat, and her teammates and the fans just love her,” he said. “She’s tight with our two senior players, and was even team captain this season as a junior. I’m hoping some of the colleges begin reaching out to her in her senior season for Port Clinton.”
After Lanier showed her mother the invitation, her mom reached out to Belden, in his second year of coaching the girls teams. They scouted out the offer and helped start the fundraiser to make it happen.
Both Lanier and Belden were overwhelmed by the generosity of the Port Clinton community.
“I’m so grateful,” said Lanier. “My mom and grandpa helped make me into who I am today, and I’ve got major league dreams. I’d really like to be playing in the WNBA some day for the L.A. Sparks,” her favorite pro basketball team.
DC may need to grow a little yet, said Belden, “but her ball-handling skills are amazing. She’s a very good shooter, averaging more than 20 points a game. That she’s also averaging four rebounds is pretty amazing. DC is already our career leader in 3-point field goals, and with another year yet to play for Port Clinton she has scored a school record 1,176 points.
“Most surprising for fans who watch her, DC also has more than 200 steals,” said Belden.
Belden said having three young daughters of his own has helped him to bond with his female players, and being a 2000 grad of Port Clinton High School gives him extra pride in his team’s successes.
“Coach Kevin knows how to push us,” said Lanier. “He’s the coach we’ve needed. I think he was a little scared of coaching girls at first, but it’s obvious he enjoys it now.”
Lanier understands her challenges.
“These days, we’re facing some tall girls who are shooting guards,” she said. “But I played flag football with the boys, and tackle football against boys while in Port Clinton Middle School. I’m certainly tough enough.”
Lanier also loves traveling and seeing new things, she said. Visiting the Land Down Under will certainly provide both.