An entertaining two days of basketball in the 52nd annual Silver Creek Holiday Tournament came to a close on Saturday night as the Providence Pioneers outlasted crosstown rival Clarksville in the championship game 38-36, after Austin Johnson’s 3-point attempt at the buzzer for the Generals rimmed out.
In the consolation game, Charlestown survived two overtimes against tournament host Silver Creek to win 70-63.
Providence senior center Ryan Pickerell, who scored 10 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the championship game, was named tournament most valuable player. He was joined on the all-tournament team by teammates Cory Cahalan and George Knott. Clarksville guards Calvin McEwen and Andrew Jones, Aaron Daniel and Chris Braun of Charlestown and Gabe Bauer of Silver Creek joined the Providence trio on the all-tournament team.
In the championship game, the Class 2A No. 4 Pioneers led 11-8 after the first quarter and had a nine-point advantage 17-8, after forward Dalton Duley scored from in close with 6:09 remaining in the second quarter.
But Clarksville began cutting into the Providence advantage and trailed 21-17 at the half after baskets from Aidan McEwen and Jones came inside the final minute.
Clarksville coach Jason Connell said the slow start by his squad hurt them.
“It all came down to a lack of focus on our part,” he said. “We got down by six or seven points, and although I think we did a better job in the second half, we have to do a better job of coming out and carrying out our game plan.”
After Jones hit a 3-pointer with 2:41 left in the third quarter, the 2A No. 6 Generals (6-2) had their first lead since the opening seconds of the contest at 29-27. Pickerell next scored inside off a nice feed from guard Nano Grantz to tie it at 29. After two free throws from Jones and a free-throw line jumper from Pickerell, the score was knotted at 31 heading into the fourth quarter.
The game slowed down in the fourth quarter, with both teams swapping leads three times heading into the closing minutes. The final score of the game came when a 12-footer by Knott found nothing but net to make it 38-36 with less than three minutes remaining.
Both squads went a combined 0-for-5 from the field inside the final three minutes as their respective fan bases in the Silver Creek gymnasium loudly expressed their anxiety.
Duley, the Pioneers’ most accurate free-throw shooter, missed the front end of one-and-one with less than a minute left. After the miss, Clarksville, in its final possession of the game, went to a familiar target: Aidan McEwen, who beat the Pioneers on a buzzer-beater in a regular-season game last season.
With less than 10 seconds left, McEwen appeared ready to head towards the basket, was met by several Providence defenders, and after a wild scrum for the ball, it ended up in Johnson’s hands. As time expired, his game-winning shot attempt went in-and-out, and Providence captured the championship.
“They’re a very good team, and we won so that’s good for us,” Providence coach Lou Lefevre said. “This was phase one. Phase two is going to be Friday night [in the rematch], and who knows, there’s probably going to be phase three later in the season [in sectional play]. We haven’t seen the last of them — that’s for sure.”
The Pioneers will host Clarksville on Friday night for the official regular-season town championship at the Robert L. Larkin Center at 7:30 p.m.
For his part, Pickerell said he believed the Pioneers would have to double down on their preparation this week, because his squad will undoubtedly get another tough effort from the Generals.
“We have a size advantage on them and that’s evident,” he said. “We have to run the boards, and make every rebound ours, and if we do that we’ll have a good shot to beat them again.”
A 3-pointer by Daniel at the top of the key with two Silver Creek defenders in his face as time expired in regulation sent Charlestown’s matchup with tournament host Silver Creek into overtime at 44-44.
Daniel enjoyed his first buzzer-beater so much that he did it again at the end of the first overtime. It was Charlestown’s ball with Silver Creek leading 53-51, following a short jumper from Dragon forward Zach Davidson with 15 seconds left.
A mad scramble for a loose ball on Charlestown’s end of the court ended with the ball in Braun’s hands, and the forward found Daniel beneath the basket for the score as the first overtime buzzer sounded. Silver Creek coach Brandon Hoffman looked up in disbelief as Daniel’s shot went through the net.
Charlestown edged away from the Dragons (2-7) in the second overtime. A three-point play from Braun and a Drew Reich putback gave the Pirates (4-3) a 65-58 lead with a little more than a minute left, and the hosts couldn’t muster enough offense inside the final minute to come back.
Charlestown coach Sean Smith was at a loss for words after the close matchup, but credited Daniel, who finished with 21 points, and Braun, who led the Pirates with 23, for the win.
“You know, a couple of our seniors at the end made some plays for us and we found a way,” he said. “We made some luck and sometimes you have to have some to win a tight game like that. It was there for us at the end, and we took advantage of it.”
Bauer led all scorers with a tournament-high scoring total of 26 points for Silver Creek.
Charlestown will travel to Seymour on Friday night to face the Owls. Silver Creek will host Eastern (Pekin) on Friday.