Clarksdale High School will be hosting two Class 4A basketball Mississippi High School Activities Association playoff games this week – one for the boys and one for the girls.
The postseason was originally scheduled to begin Monday, but it was pushed back to later in the week due to weather conditions.
The Wildcats (7-5, 3-3) and Lady Wildcats (5-4, 2-3) both finished No. 2 in Region 3-4A. Since there was no district tournament, the second seed automatically meant a home game for both teams.
The Wildcats will host Itawamba Agricultural High School Friday with the game tentatively set for 6 p.m. The game could start as early as 5 p.m.
The Lady Wildcats will host South Pontotoc at 5 p.m. Thursday.
While the regular season finale did not impact the standings, the Wildcats lost at Yazoo City 36-30.
Dave Wilson and Markevious Jackson had six points each on two 3-pointers apiece, Tamera Allen had two points, Korea McKay had eight, and Kelley Jones had eight.
“We lost 36-30 in a hard-fought game,” said Wildcats coach Farrington Hill. “We had a chance to win it, but gave up key rebounds at the end of the game. Something we need to fix if we want to advance in the playoff.”
Hill knows the playoffs will not be an easy task.
“We’re actually facing another No. 2 seed,” he said. “They’re powered by a good point guard and a 6-7 kid who’s pretty solid. They’ve got a couple of guys that can shoot the ball well.”
Itawamba Agricultural High School was No. 2 in its district in the regular season, but played its district tournament and fell to No. 3.
The Wildcats will have been off for two weeks at tipoff time Friday with COVID causing the district tournament not to take place and the weather delaying the playoffs.
“We were just practicing every day,” Hill said. “We were watching the weather.”
Hill said his team has to work on defense, rebounding and free throws.
“Our defense hasn’t been as good as in the past,” Hill said. “That’s what we were tightening up on.”
“Offensively, I’m feeling pretty good about that.”
Hill said someone different is capable of scoring every night.
“The guys are focused coming in,” Hill said. “They’re relaxed. They’re not tense.
“It’s been fun as in the whole team. I’ve got a great group of guys.
“They do what I ask them to do. I think I can make a serious run with these guys.”
Hill said Teric Trotter, Jackson, Wilson and Jones are all capable of scoring 20 points in a game.
“If you key in on one, the other three are going to hurt you,” said Hill, adding his players are unselfish and will let the hot man score.
The second round of the playoffs is Monday and Tuesday and the third round is Feb. 25 and 26. Then the semifinals and finals are in Jackson.
“That’s what it’s going to take, a five-game winning streak,” Hill said. “That’s what we need.”
If Corinth upsets Leake in the first round of the playoffs, that would mean another home game for Clarksdale in the second round.
“The bracket we’re in is favorable for us,” Hill said. “We just have to take advantage of it.
“I’m not underestimating anyone.”
Hill said his team is focused on the journey, not destination.
“That’s our focus. We’re just playing day by day,” said Hill, noting the destination would take care of itself with that mentality.
Hill also announced three of his athletes earned Region 3-4A All District honors.
Jackson, a junior shooting guard, and Jones, a sophomore small and power forward, are on the All-District team for the second consecutive year.
Wilson, a senior point guard, is also on the All-District team.
Lady Wildcats finish strong
The Lady Wildcats began district play 0-2, but finished the season winning three of their last four to earn the home playoff game against South Pontotoc.
They closed the regular season with a 43-25 win at Yazoo City.
Alexis Moore led the way with 18 points followed by Jermiya Wright with 11.
Coach Greg Wilson hopes to continue the momentum into the postseason.
"We've just got to play consistently throughout the game, not blowing assignments offensively or defensively,” he said.
"They press a lot so we're going to have to handle the pressure."
Wilson said he will be counting on seniors Tamaria Marbley and Wright to step up along with Moore, who is a junior.
Many of their other athletes are underclassmen, but they have made strides in recent weeks.
"You always want to get better and show improvement as the year goes on,” Wilson said. “We were really young and I was just proud of the kids that they stuck with it and got better as they came along."
Wilson praised eighth grader Caitlin Hall’s performance throughout the season.
"She really brought stability as far as rebounding and scoring from the post and things like that," Wilson said.
"I really think we've gotten so much better within the last two weeks just by kids understanding what we want them to do. When you have a young team, you have to play to their strengths. We want to try to get them inside to our eighth grader and we want to be able to push the ball a little bit."
The Lady Wildcats will have almost two weeks between games, but they are preparing for the playoffs.
"You just try to practice your fundamentals and make sure the kids stay as sharp as they can,” Wilson said.