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Wilkinson County Wildcat Basketball Team
- Me, Myself, and I
- Clark engineering turnaround at WCHS
By Tim Cottrell
The Natchez Democrat
WOODVILLE — Arthur Clark came to Woodville and Wilkinson County High school two years ago and found a moribund program.
Nearly two decades without a state playoff appearance. Years of losing piled up, making the basketball program an afterthought at the school.
This season has seen a big change.
The Wildcats, 23-5 thus far this season and 10-1 in district play, have made a big turnaround from last season’s 13-18 mark.
“This is probably the most proud I’ve been of a team in all my years of coaching,” Clark said. “These kids didn’t come up playing basketball. I’ve got three seniors, but they’ve all only played two years. Most of them didn’t play JV basketball. They’ve come out, improved and worked hard, and here we are.”
Where the Wildcats are is tied with Columbia High School for first place in Region 7-3A through Tuesday. Should both teams win their final region game, Columbia holds the tiebreaker, but Clark is undeterred.
“Anybody can win the region tournament,” Clark said. “The top four or five teams are good enough that you can’t take a night off. But I feel like we’re going to have a good chance at the tournament.”
The Wildcats defeated Columbia earlier this season at home and lost to them on the road.
Clark said he felt the turnaround this season owed strongly to a good group of players.
“I think the big difference is I have very resilient ballplayers,” he said. “They pay more attention to detail than the club I had last year. They’re good students, which always helps. And they have a great determination to succeed. They’re very good players too, because a coach isn’t anything without players.”
While the Wildcats have put together a strong season this time around, Clark wonders why his team has yet to crack the rankings.
“We’ve won 23 games, and 14 of them were on the road,” he said. “We’ve beaten Natchez, Brookhaven, McComb and other teams on the road. How much more could we do?”
With winning finally infecting the student body and community, Clark said he can feel the excitement his team is generating.
“I believe (students are excited),” he said. “They’re hungry for a winner. There’s been a lot of excitement this year, and as I look at some of the athletes that have come through this school, I only wonder why it took this long.”
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