By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The Clark name has become a part of Millington Lady Trojans Basketball in recent years.
Recently Traci and Sky have carried on the legacy started by big sister Erin. Erin played in the early part of this decade guiding Millington to a district championship as a point guard.
She earned a scholarship to Mid-South Community College to play basketball. As she continues her studies at Tennessee State University, the eldest Clark is still active in basketball.
In April 2017, Clark helped organized a youth basketball program in the Millington/Frayser areas. In less than 6 months, the Flag City Hoopers are experiencing success after recently winning the AAU’s Frayser Athletic League Basketball Tournament.
“Winning the title made me feel proud of the hard work my boys, Coach (Wilbert) Clark and I had put in during the season,” Erin said. “Coach Clark and I had spent countless hours molding our boys into sound individuals and creating a strong unit and we both could not be more proud of our players. Our players show up every practice and understand that hard work and dedication are the keys to open the doors to success in every aspect of life.”
With her father Wilbert by her side, Erin led her Hoopers to a 6-0 record during the tournament.
“So this was our first season and it only lasted for 4 months,” Erin noted. “Our boys have improved so much in such little time. Most of our boys have not played school basketball nor have they played AAU basketball due to lack of opportunity.
“And to go from street ball and YMCA basketball to playing in the Frayser Athletic League and winning the championship trophy all while going undefeated in just 4 short months and only being able to practice two nights a week is a pretty big deal,” she added. “I cannot imagine what we could do if we had the resources.”
The Clark duo said the key to success during the tournament was solid defense.
“Our mindset is if we can stop the opponent from scoring during their possessions then that gives our team room for mistakes on our offensive end,” Erin acknowledged. “We worked to capitalize on defense first and foremost then, as we progress through the season, build our offensive game.”
During the tournament, Flag City faced four aggressive teams, the Waiters, Wildcats, Pharaohs, and Lakers Express.
“We never focused on the big picture all at once but instead focused on one team at a time in order to maintain sound minds,” she said.
The Laker Express was waiting on the Flag City Hoopers in the championship game. In a thriller, Hoopers were victorious 48-46.
“During the last 10 seconds we, Flag City Hoopers, were up by one point,” Clark recalled. “Lakers Express had possession during the last 10 seconds and one of our players, Kyshaun Peoples fouled No. 23, Lakers Express’ point guard. That stopped the clock at 5 seconds.
“No. 23 had 2 foul shots,” she continued. “No. 23 made the first shot and missed the second foul shot. Braden Lewis rebounded the ball, passed the ball to Isaiah Russell who then passed the ball to Marico Davis. Slightly above half court with just ive seconds winding down, Marico Davis pushed the ball all the way down the court and hit a buzzer beater layup on two of Lakers Express’ post players giving us a two point lead and ending the game. Boy it was wild.”
Clark said bringing back the trophy means a lot to the young program.
“We hope that this means that we can expand our program to open for all ages/genders and bring tournaments and revenue back into our city,” Clark said. “We will be hoping to get support of a bigger gym to do so. We were blessed with the use of a gym by the generous Lucy Baptist Church this year and thank them dearly for that.
“Hopefully our program can reach more sponsors so that Coach Clark and I can give the kids quality jerseys, shoes, and bags and even travel so that we can place Tipton and Shelby County on the map for college recruitment,” she added. “But for now this simply means that we must remain humble and keep working hard.”
The Clarks are looking to expand the program to Tipton County and widen the age range. The Hoopers were 15 and under team this year and would like to next expand with a 10 and under team as well as have an 11 to 13 year old teams.
For more information, to join or to donate, contact Erin “Coach E” Clark at 482-4904 or Coach Wilbert Clark at 237-5717, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Facebook: Flag City Youth Basketball.