Clarksdale advances to quarterfinals with second road playoff win
By Josh Troy
The Clarksdale High School boys are playing their best basketball at the right time, earning them a spot in the Class 4A MHSAA basketball state quarterfinals. After finishing in third place in the Region 3-4A District Tournament, the Wildcats (16-11, 4-4) won two road playoff games last week to advance to the quarterfinals. They won 66-50 at Choctaw Central on Saturday night.
Clarksdale will play Pontotoc in the quarterfinals at Mississippi Valley State University, with tipoff set for Thursday at 8:30 p.m. Thursday. A trip to the Class 4A MHSAA State Tournament at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson will be on the line. The Wildcats are on a three-game winning streak."We're peaking at the right moment," said coach Corney George. "We've been making shots and getting back on D (defense)." George said there had been extra movement at the ball on offense during the past three games. "We added a little different offense that brings a little more intensity in practice," he said. "They're just ready."
Senior point guard Gregory Neely III led the Wildcats with 17 points against Choctaw Central, junior point guard Patrick Broomfield finished with 12, senior guard and forward Kelley Jones and junior power forward and center, Kyle Coleman contributed 11 each, senior shooting guard and forward Henry Espy and junior guard and forward Kebian Gilmore scored 6 each, freshman guard and forward Kamarius Rash scored 2, and senior guard and small forward Isaiah Galmore added 1.
Different athletes have led Clarksdale in scoring throughout the district tournament and playoffs. Jones led Clarksdale with 21 points in a 68-56 victory at Choctaw Central to open the playoffs. Coleman led the Wildcats in scoring the Region 3-4A championship with 12 points en route to a 36-33 victory against Gentry High School. Jones and Broomfield scored 15 points each in a 70-55 district tournament semifinals loss to Greenwood. It was the first time Neely led Clarksdale in scoring during the playoffs.
"It's been a while," George said. "He hasn't led us in scoring in a good little minute, but now, his shots are falling down. He's playing with a lot more confidence, and he's getting the job done." George said having different athletes lead the Wildcats in scoring makes it tougher for opponents. "That way, it's hard for someone to tune in or just game plan for one person for us," he said. "You never know who's going to be that guy for us. It's definitely a good thing."
George was happy his athletes would be able to play in the quarterfinals.
"It means a lot," he said. "It feels good. It's always good to win and continue to go farther, but it means more to them than to me. I want them to be happy; it's good for them." Clarksdale will not be changing the game plan against Pontotoc. "We have to make shots," George said. "We've got to keep them from making shots; keep doing what we're doing."
Photo Credit: Jaleesa Collins