High Schools

Clayton’s Gary Clark craves rebounds, blocks and victories

January 13, 2014 

Gary Clark has never been concerned much with his scoring totals.

He scored his 1,000th point last season as a junior and became the Clayton High all-time leading boys’ basketball scorer this season with no chest bumping and little fanfare.

But he is interested in some numbers. He almost always checks on his rebounds and blocked shots at the half of the Comets’ games.

He was not impressed at halftime of Friday’s 67-46 win against West Johnston: He had four blocks and six rebounds.

A 6-foot-7.5 forward, he finished with stunning numbers, though. He recorded a quadruple-double, scoring 22 points, grabbing 21 rebounds, blocking 15 shots and handing out 10 assists.

“I always like to check on the blocked shots and the rebounds,” Clark said. “They let me know how hard I’m playing. Against West Johnston, I knew I had to play harder.”

Coach Denny Medlin said Clark has been the epitome of team player since he joined the varsity as a freshman.

“We really don’t emphasize any stats,” Medlin said. “Our theory is that if you play hard and try to win the games, the statistics will take care of themselves. Gary bought in to that from the start.”

But Clark, a Cincinnati recruit, has put up incredible numbers. During his past three games, he scored 31 points in less than a half in a 67-34 romp against Rolesville, scored 40 points in a 69-62 win against East Wake and posted the quadruple-double.

During this season’s Holiday Invitational, Clark grabbed 24 rebounds in a win against Moss Point, Miss., and finished the 42-year-old event tied for fourth all-time with former Rocky Mount High and NBA standout Buck Williams in tournament rebounds.

“Gary has always wanted to get rebounds,” Medlin said.

Clark was pleased to record the quadruple-double, but primarily because it meant he played hard and tried to win.

“I motivate myself with blocks and rebounds,” he said. “If I’m playing hard I’m going to get rebounds and block shots. And if I’m rebounding, I’m going to score some. I didn’t shoot very well against West Johnston, but I still scored some.”

The 15 blocks tied his career best. He narrowly missed a quadruple-double last season against Southeast Raleigh with 15 blocks, 20 rebounds and nine assists. His career high for rebounds is 24. He is averaging 24.5 points this season.

Clark said his goal in every game is to be an inside presence. Clayton guards often funnel opposing guards to the middle, where Clark waits.

He is an aggressive defender but rarely is called for fouls while blocking shots.

“I didn’t have a foul all night against West Johnston,” he said. “Usually, if I get a foul, it comes at the offensive end or in transition.”

Clark said he and his teammates can play better – in fact, they have to play better if they are to win the Greater Neuse 4A regular season and make a run in the state playoffs.

“There are so many little things that I have to do better and that we have to do better,” he said. “They are small things, but they could add up to a big difference.”

A season ago, he led Clayton to a 27-2 record. He thinks the Comets can make another playoff run this year.

“We’re focusing on winning games,” he said. “I think we’ll be fine as long as we do that.”

Stevens: 919-829-8910; tstevens@newsobserver.com.

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