Clarksdale High School relied on the 3-point field goal and that was not in coach Farrington Hill’s game plan Tuesday night.
That proved costly as the Wildcats (7-6, 3-3), a No. 2 seed, were eliminated in the first round of the MHSAA basketball playoffs with a 55-50 home loss to Itawamba Agricultural High School.
“We shot ourselves out of the game,” Hill said. “Too many 3’s. That’s not who we are. We’re not built to shoot a whole bunch of 3’s. We shot too many 3’s. We shot ourselves out of the game. We shot ourselves literally out of the game.”
Clarksdale had two weeks off between the regular season and Class 4A playoffs as there was no district tournament and weather delayed the postseason one week.
Hill did not feel the rust was a factor.
“When we scored, we were going to the basket,” he said. “We were getting the basket or we were getting fouled. That’s the recipe. That’s what you’ve got to do, keep doing. We just shot too many 3’s. We made it easy for us to defend, so they just let us shoot because we weren’t making them. Of course, at the end, we made a few to make the game close, but through the course of the game, we shot ourselves in the foot. We just shot too many 3’s. That wasn’t the game plan. I’m disappointed in my guys. We sit up here as a coaching staff playing this game plan and what we’re going to do and they don’t stick to the game plan.”
The Wildcats had just one 3-pointer in the first half from senior Dave Wilson, who finished with seven points.
As a team, Clarksdale had five 3-pointers on the night with four of them coming in the second half. Three 3-pointers came in the fourth quarter.
Junior Markevious Jackson scored all 13 of his points in the second half on three 3-pointers and four free throws. Two of his 3-pointers came during the fourth quarter.
Senior Tamera Allen finished with four points and had the other 3-pointer in the final period.
Hill did not believe effort was a problem. He attributed the loss to mostly lack of execution.
“We worked hard as a coaching staff to get this game plan,” Hill said. “We did our homework. We told them we’ve got to keep 24 – a 6-6, 6-7 kid – off the board. You’ve got to watch 12 who burns up about 16. We’ve got to know where he’s at. We didn’t do that. It was just a lack of execution. You’ve got to execute. Our kids have got to learn to listen to the coaches. That’s just period – basketball, football, baseball, track, tennis. Our kids here at Clarksdale athletics have got to learn to listen and trust the coaches. It’s just the truth. That’s what they’ve got to do.”
Teric Trotter led Clarksdale with 14 points, Kelley Jones had five, and Korea McKay added four.
In the offseason, Hill said he will stress to his athletes the importance of trusting the coaches and executing the game plan.
“They’ve got to learn to get off social media and get in that weight room and workout and take training more seriously,” Hill said. “Until they do that, we’re competing to be mediocre. Until they make up their mind and they want to be great and train like they want to be great athletes – weight room, being dedicated, staying off social media, worrying about that, get off social media and get in the weight room – until they start doing that, we’re going to continue to compete to be mediocre.
“We have a solid team, but it does no good if they’re not going to get in there and work during the offseason. We’re talking about even pre-COVID. I’m talking pre-COVID. They aren’t hitting that weight room and doing what they’re supposed to be doing and training like they’re supposed to. They’re either not taking it seriously in the weight room or they’re not coming to practice. We’ve got to beg and scratch and claw for them to come to practice. I can’t help you get better and develop you if you don’t come to practice. That’s what it is. I’m not going to go home and lose any sleep because I know the coaching staff, we did everything in our power to prepare these boys. We did our homework, scouting report. Everything we told them, we’re going to lose this game if you all do this, that’s what happened. We didn’t rebound well. We didn’t lock in and know where 12 was at.”
Hill said he encourages his players to be multisport athletes. He specifically said Jackson will be playing baseball in the spring and Jones will be running track.
“You’re either going to play another sport or come on track,” said Hill, who is also one of the track coaches.
Hill said he would use the athletic period during school as part of the offseason program and the Wildcats would get things going again in the next few weeks. He noted he does not know what the team will be allowed to do in the offseason with the COVID pandemic still going on.