Many Indiana high school basketball experts believe Class 3A No. 2 Bowman Academy — reportedly ranked ninth in the nation by MaxPreps after Saturday’s overtime loss to Chicago Simeon — may be the best team in the entire state.
If that’s the case, Clarksville (5-1) has proven it can play with the best.
After beating Jeffersonville 63-45 on Saturday, the Class 2A No. 7 Generals nearly overcame a 16-point fourth-quarter deficit but eventually fell short of the defending Class 2A champions, 79-76.
“It was an honor to be invited to play [in the showcase] against the No. 9 team in the country,” Clarksville coach Jason Connell said. “To take them to the wire says a lot about where our program is.”
After trailing 67-53 early in the fourth quarter, Clarksville cut the gap to 77-71 with 30 seconds left. Calvin McEwen had an open look to cut it to three but missed. The Generals made it 77-73 after Marquise Parrish scored his career-high 27th point with eight seconds remaining.
Bowman’s Justin King hit a pair of free throw for a 79-73 lead and McEwen nailed his fifth 3 at the buzzer.
“What a game,” Connell said. “That was a lot of fun. We’re disappointed we loss, but I thought our kids gave a great showing. You couldn’t ask for a better effort. We had a chance to win that game. I’m proud of them.”
Parrish scored on a fast break to make it 8-7 Clarksville with 5:30 to go in the first period. That was the Generals’ final lead after the Eagles went on an 11-0 run on seven General turnovers.
However, Clarksville went on a flourish of its own to cut the gap to 28-22 at the end of the first quarter. Parrish scored nine points in the opening period but Clarksville had nine of its 25 turnovers in the frame.
Clarksville got within 32-29 early in the second quarter before Devon Dillard went on a personal 6-0 run. Again Clarksville answered, this time with five straight free throws to make it 40-34. The Generals missed their final eight field goal attempts of the half and trailed 44-34 at the break.
The Eagles were able to push the advantage to 54-38 early in the third before another Clarksville rally. Parrish drove to the bucket for two points, scored on an putback from his own miss and hit a pair of free throws to make it 56-49. Dillard scored on a turnaround jumper in the final seconds of the penultimate period to give Bowman a 60-51 heading into the final eight minutes.
The Eagles started the fourth on a 7-2 run for a comfortable 67-53 lead before Parrish and McEwen led the Generals back. Back-to-back 3s by McEwen and D.J. Coleman got Clarksville within eight at 73-65 with 3:13 remaining.
Andrew Jones hit two free throws and Parrish scored in the paint around a Bowman bucket to make it 75-69.
Justin King, who was named the game’s MVP, held the Generals off with four free throws in the final minute.
“We got down 14 and I said ‘How are we going to respond?’” Connell recalled. “We battled and found a way to get back in the game. I’m never happy with a loss, but I’m proud of them.”
Parrish led all scorers with a career-high 27 points.
“He’s a kid that just needs confidence,” Connell said. “He’s hard on himself. He attacked tonight. He wasn’t scared. It was great to see him play that way.”
Jones added 19 points and McEwen finished with 18 for the Generals, who stayed in the game at the foul line, where they outscored the Eagles 28-12 at the stripe.
Clarksville is back in action Friday when it faces crosstown rival Providence (5-0) in the opening round of the Silver Creek Holiday Tournament. The Class 2A No. 6 Pioneers will be the third consecutive ranked team the Generals will have faced.
BOWMAN ACADEMY 79, CLARKSVILLE 76
Clarksville 22 12 16 25—76
Bowman Academy 28 16 15 19—79
Clarksville (5-1): Calvin McEwen 18, D.J. Coleman 8, Evan Guenthner 2, Marquise Parrish 27, Andrew Jones 19, Aham Yennes 2.
Bowman Academy (5-1): Martin Schiele 9, Arthur Haggard 7, Darnon Riddle 4, Austin Daniels 2, Davon Dillard 12, Justin King 18, Raynard Perry 6, Anthony Cole 13, DeShawn Franklin 2.
3-point field goals: Clarksville 7 (McEwen 5, Coleman 2); Bowman Academy 3 (Schiele 2, Haggard).
Rebounds: Clarksville 29, Bowman Academy 28.
Turnovers: Clarksville 25, Bowman Academy 22.