Clever basketball

Clever's Mackenzie Simpson looks for an open teammate.

Go to Clever’s MacKenzie and Carly Simpson for a run-down on the top teams and players in southwest Missouri and they’ll respond with a quite a list. 

They know what they speak, not only from their experiences playing for the Lady Jays, but from their many travels watching games. Their father, Dan, is owner of SWMO Basketball, a website devoted to southwest Missouri hoops. McKenzie and Carly often tag along with him to games.

While watching, the Simpsons are mindful of who is on Clever’s schedule or potentially could be a future opponent.

“I like seeing what other teams are doing and to see what we can learn to stop a team we might be playing later,” MacKenzie said. 

“I think it’s interesting to scout teams we might play,” Carly said. “We find out who are the best players on teams and how we might need to guard them.”

Naturally, basketball is at the center of their conversations. 

“We talk about basketball all the time, all day every day,” Carly said.

Clever coach Dan Jones, whose team is at the Skyline Tournament this week, appreciates the Simpsons’ love for basketball.

“You’d think they would be absolutely worn out from basketball. But they love it,” Jones said. ”They love to pick my mind, they love to go to games and message me and tell me what’s going on at other gyms. It’s fun when you have players who are that involved. Those two are fun to have on the team. 

“Their dad gives me great scouting reports,” he added. “Anything I might miss on Hudl or film, he’s got an extra (report) he shoots my direction. That’s pretty nice.”

The extra exposure to basketball has helped the Simpsons make an immediate impact as sophomore starters at Clever. They transferred from Nixa at the beginning of this school year.

“Going to the other games has really helped me,” MacKenzie said. “I enjoy it and think I have a pretty high basketball IQ because of it.”

The Simpsons have provided the Lady Jays with another weapon from 3-point land to complement high-scoring senior Allie Clevenger. Carly is averaging 9.7 points a game while making 30 treys and MacKenzie is averaging 5.5 points a night and has made 13 3-pointers. They’ve combined for 57 assists, 50 rebounds and 35 steals.

The transition from Nixa to Clever has gone as well as they could have hoped, maybe even more so.

“We feel a lot more comfortable at Clever,” MacKenzie said. “(Jones) has been welcoming. I feel we have a bigger role here. Overall, It’s been really nice. I don’t like the big schools. I like the small-town feel.”

“I fit in a lot better here than I did at Nixa, not just for basketball, but in the whole community,” Carly added. 

The Simpsons are triplets. Their sister, Riley runs cross country and track.

The timing of the Simpsons’ arrival at Clever couldn’t have been better. The Lady Jays had holes to fill entering this season, after losing three starters to graduation. Jones is enjoying seeing their progress. 

“They’re getting better and better as they get more varsity minutes,” he said. “They’re figuring out how to get to the interior. Carly has really stepped it up on defense lately. 'Mac' has got a heart that never stops. She’s got a full motor all the time. They’ve helped us in a big way.” 

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