The Clinton Yellowjacket boys’ basketball team had another successful season in 2019-2020. Coach Cole Gardner’s Yellowjackets finished the season with 21 wins and another trip to the regional and state tournaments. In addition to the team’s accomplishments two players also picked up post season awards.
Clinton won 9 of their first 12 games in route to a 21-10 record on the season. It was the fourth straight 20-win season for the Yellowjackets. The Jackets were outstanding at home again this year going 11-1 at Yellowjacket Arena. Clinton has been exceptionally good at home going 20-4 the past two seasons.
Clinton finished second in the 3A-1 East Conference with a 10-2 record. The Yellowjackets were a perfect 6-0 at home in conference games including a 43-40 win over Valley Springs and a 62-57 win over Bergman. The victory over Valley Springs was the only conference loss for the Tigers on the season.
Clinton played in the 3A West Regional at Waldron. The Yellowjackets defeated the host Waldron Bulldogs and their high scoring guard Payton Brown 70-60 in the opening round of the tournament. The win qualified the Jackets for the 3A State Tournament at Charleston High School. Clinton has now been to the regional tournament four straight seasons and to the state tournament twice in the last five seasons.
Clinton had two players selected for post-season recognition. Kragen Bradley and Jasper Burgess were both selected to the 3A-1- East All Conference Team. Bradley was also named to the All-State Tournament team for his play in the tournament and All- State for his play during the regular season. Bradley had an outstanding Yellowjacket career finishing with over 1000 career points.
In May, Bradley signed to continue his basketball career at the University of Central Arkansas becoming the first Clinton player to play for the Bears since Jamie Beavers and Mickey Parish did back in the 1980s. Bradley also has the chance to be the first Yellowjacket to play Division I basketball since Scott Whillock played for Texas Tech in the 1980s. Gardner commenting on Bradley said, “he was as good and competitive of a player that has come thru Clinton.” “Bradley knew how to elevate his game when it was on the line and he never put his success over the team’s success the definition of a good leader.”
Coach Gardner mentioned the contributions of several players that contributed to the success of this year’s team. Senior Reid Hensley, “was a good scorer and a lockdown defensive player.” Junior Jasper Burgess, who played the forward position, “he could both drive from the perimeter or play with his back to the basket, while also having to guard the biggest player on the floor.” Junior Zac Alexander, “was a solid defensive and offensive player while having to play all five positions at times throughout the season and he did so without hesitation.” Junior Harrison Hall, “was another good offensive asset this season becoming a real three-point threat while also leading the Yellowjackets in taking charges (20) on the defensive end.” Junior Lathan Newland, “was our do all do whatever it takes guy, there was no assignment to tall or too tough for him he always came thru.”
Coach Gardner and the Yellowjackets look forward to another successful season in 2020-21 as they move to a new conference. The Jackets return 12 players including three starters from this year’s roster. An exceptionally talented freshman class, coming off a District Tournament championship, will also help to bolster the roster for next season.