By Josh Troy
The Clarksdale High School boys are playing their best basketball at the appropriate time, earning them a spot within the Class 4A MHSAA basketball state quarterfinals. After ending in third place within 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 within the quarterfinals at Mississippi Valley State University, with tipoff set for Thursday at 8:30 p.m. Thursday. A visit to the Class 4A MHSAA State Tournament on the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson might be on the road. The Wildcats are on a three-game winning streak.’We’re peaking at the appropriate moment,’ said coach Corney George. ‘We have been making shots and getting back on D (defense).’ George said there had been extra movement on the ball on offense in the course of the past three games. ‘We added a little bit different offense that brings a little bit 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 path 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 primary time Neely led Clarksdale in scoring in the course of the playoffs.
‘It has been some time,’ George said. ‘He hasn’t led us in scoring in a great little minute, but now, his shots are falling down. He’s fiddling with loads 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 somebody to tune in or simply 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 great thing.’
George was comfortable his athletes would find a way to play within the quarterfinals.
‘It means loads,’ he said. ‘It feels good. It is often good to win and proceed to go farther, nevertheless it means more to them than to me. I need them to be comfortable; it’s good for them.’ Clarksdale won’t be changing the sport plan against Pontotoc. ‘We’ve to make shots,’ George said. ‘We have got to maintain them from making shots; keep doing what we’re doing.’
Photo Credit: Jaleesa Collins