Arsula Clark was already having her best season in a Douglas County uniform, but since the postseason has starter for the Tigers, it seems the talented junior guard has taken her game to another level.
And Clark will be the first to admit she does have a little more pep now that the team is in the win or go home portion of its schedule, otherwise known as the state playoffs.
Clark is averaging slightly above the 14.1 points she did during the regular season in the last four postseason games. She comes into today’s Class AAAAAA second round playoff contest against Collins Hill averaging 17.7 points in the postseason.
“I just had to dig deep because this is the crucial part of the season,” Clark said. “The regular season was fine but we know because it is state you either win or go home. I just have to give all I can because we want to march to Macon.”
The Tigers defeated Rockdale in the first round of the playoffs as Clark helped pace the fastbreak offense with 12 points. She ultimately caught fire during the Region 3-AAAAAA playoffs a week ago at Langston Hughes High.
When the regular-season region champions clinched a state berth with a win over South Cobb, Clark led all scorers with 23 points.
She followed that with a 19-point effort against Campbell and scored a team-high 17 points in the region championship win over Westlake.
During the Tigers’ 14-game winning streak, Clark has only failed to get into double figures twice, and for the season she has a total of five single-digit scoring games.
But she refuses to take full credit for the team’s success. Freshman Amari Robinson is averaging 16.8 points and 10.1 rebounds to lead the team in both categories. Clark is second on the team in points per game average and third with an 8.6 rebounding average.
Amira Atwater, the only senior starter, is perhaps the key to making the team go from a leadership standpoint. She is averaging 12.4 points and a team-leading 6.3 assist per game.
Douglas County coach Chet Forsh said he has been pleased with Clark’s effort throughout the season and into the postseason.
“The way she has played has been big all year for us,” Forsh said. “She can create a match-up problems for other teams because she is too quick for a post player to guard her and she is quicker than most wing players. Everybody on the team has a role to play. I’ve had to remind her sometimes about that role.”
If the Tigers are to continue to advance throughout the playoffs, Clark will have to be a major contributor on both ends of the court.
It is something that her teammates have come to expect.
“Arsula is a big part of this team,” Tigers junior forward Ashanti Brown said. “She knows her role and continues to play at a high level. She is the one that brings the energy to the team. She is sort of our hype person and the one that keeps us loose.”
In three seasons on the varsity, this is Clark’s best in terms of scoring and rebounding.
Last season in 28 games, she averaged 10.6 points and 8.8 rebounds and has a career average of 9.8 points and 6.9 rebounds in 71 varsity games.
But right now, her focus is just on the Collins Hill game and hopefully getting a shot at a state championship.
“We just have to play our brand of basketball,” Clark said. “We have to be patience and focused throughout the game and we can’t look ahead to anyone. We just want to come out and get the win so we can move on. Everybody has to step up two notches and contribute to the team.”
And Clark will certainly try to do her part.