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February 28, 2009

Higginbotham: Winning is second nature to Rebelettes

CLINTON – One could argue that Leake Academy’s girls had little business making a run to the Mississippi Private School Association Overall Tournament championship game.

One could say this year’s version of the Rebelettes were overachievers. That any accomplishment after their fourth straight state title was simply gravy.

In fact, one could say Leake and living legend coach Doyle Wolverton were playing with house money.

Truth be known, just about any of those cliches would work. But simply put, Leake and Wolverton captured their fifth MPSA Overall title here Saturday because ... well ... they’re winners. They don’t know anything except winning.

“The best team doesn’t always win,” Wolverton said following his team’s 65-56 victory against Oak Forest, La., at Mississippi College’s A.E. Wood Coliseum — and he’s never spoken truer words.

Exactly 10 years ago, Wolverton’s bunch capped a remarkable 46-0 season with its fourth Overall title. That team is considered by many to be his best, although he’s brought plenty of teams to MC since who had the potential to win No. 5.

In fact, his last two teams both brought undefeated records to Clinton. The 2007-08 squad lost in the semifinals and wound up 42-1; the 2006-07 team went 42-1 and was the Overall runnerup.

Before Saturday’s win, Wolverton was 4-6 in Overall finals.

“We’d been in this thing 10 times and won four ... in fact, I had lost the last two,” Wolverton said. “That kinda hurt me a little bit.

“Sometimes, you start to question yourself: ‘What am I doing wrong in these championship games?’”

To think that Wolverton has ever questioned himself is mind-boggling. He’s been cranking out championships at the Madden school since 1975 and has just one losing season — a 12-17 mark back in 1977-78.

Just a few astonishing numbers to share:

*Wolverton now has a career record of 1,088 wins and 172 losses. That’s a winning clip of nearly 87 percent; and an average of just about five losses per year.

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