Claire Fleming wasn’t ready for her athletic novel to end.
It wasn’t until Fleming reached the end of one chapter that she realized that she wanted to turn the page toward more events unfolding.
“It’s always been on my mind,” the Red Boiling Springs High girls basketball standout said. “For a long time, it’s not something I actually wanted to go and do. After our last basketball game and the realization that you’re never going to get to play any more, it changed my mind.”
Fleming recently signed a letter-of-intent to continue her education and playing career at Lindsey Wilson (Kentucky) College.
“I really liked their assistant coaches they sent when they watched me play ball,” Fleming said. “We went up and visited the school. It was small, kind of like our school. From one end of the campus to the other, it’s about seven minutes.
“They have my program interest there (physical education, from pre-K through 12th grade). I’m hoping that’s going to get me a basketball coaching job honestly.”
The Blue Raiders finished 10-19 overall and 4-18 in the Mid-South Conference (MSC) in 2022-23. John Wethington has led the Lindsey Wilson program for the past 35 seasons, compiling a record of 679-394.
Members of the Blue Raider coaching staff came to three of the Lady Bulldogs’ postseason contests — district tournament games against Clay County and Clarkrange and the season finale, a 66-59 loss to Pickett County.
“Whenever we were in district play at Jackson County, that’s when the two assistant coaches from Lindsey came and talked,” Fleming — who also had interest from Cumberland University, Freed-Hardeman University and Volunteer State Community College — said. “Coach Terra (Pryor-Allen, the RBS head coach) was telling me about these schools who were asking about me. I kind of brushed it off.
“It was about right after that Pickett County game when we lost (when my mind changed).”
Fleming verbally committed in early April and signed her letter-of-intent late last month.
“I’m excited,” Fleming — who averaged 20.6 points per game as a senior and was selected as the District 7-1A most valuable player — said. “I’m also a little nervous. It’s not nervous about going up there and playing basketball. It’s nervous about leaving home and being away from all my friends and family.”
After completing her eighth-grade season for the Red Boiling Springs Junior High girls basketball program, Fleming began playing later that season for the RBS high-school squad. She was immediately inserted into the starting lineup, leaving the program as a five-year starter. She was named to the district’s all-freshman team as both an eighth-grader and a freshman.
“It’s been very enjoyable,” Fleming said of her career, which ended with her becoming only the second player in the program’s history to score more than 2,000 career points (along with Layce Colter). “I’ve loved all my teammates and all the supporters I’ve had all my career.
“I liked the role I got put into. It was kind of scary coming in as an eighth-grader. As time progressed, I was pushed to be the scorer, the person that was going to get to the goal.”
While Fleming has admittedly improved her perimeter shooting, she’s often characterized as a player who attacks the basket with dribble penetration.
“That’s what I like to do,” Fleming said. “It’s taken a lot of development with my shot. Getting to the basket, getting fouled and making my layups has been one of my main things.
“They (Lindsey Wilson) see me as a point guard. They see me as someone who can push the pace. They said they had a girl in recent years. Her name was Reagan Turner (a 2020-21 LWC graduate who was the MSC Player of the Year and a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics All-American). They say I’m a lot like her. They want me to keep driving to the basket and make things happen. They want someone who is going to be more aggressive.”
Fleming — who ranked seventh academically when she graduated last Thursday as a 17-year-old — indicated that she’ll miss the relationships with her teammates more than anything.
“It’s probably the friendships that build honestly and the enjoyment of wins with your teammates on your home court … especially against those big teams where noone expects you to win,” Fleming said.
Among the biggest of those wins were two that came during her junior campaign.
“My favorite is probably winning the regional championship and beating Clay County (a 54-40 win on March 2, 2022, after which Fleming was named the regional tournament’s most valuable player),” Fleming said. “We played them four times that year and lost three times. But we won the one that mattered.
“And the Clarkrange game there … winning there in their gym was big (a 57-56 victory on Jan. 13, 2022) … it hadn’t happened for a long time.”
However, Fleming is hoping that there are more memorable wins to come for her in the cozy confines of the gymnasium at Red Boiling Springs … one day as a coach.
“I would like to be back home at my gym if we were being honest,” said Fleming of her possible coaching future. “I’ve been giving basketball lessons recently. There’s some younger girls and kids … I love giving them lessons. My younger cousins (entering fourth grade and second grade) are moving over here, and they say stuff to me about one day being their coach.”
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