By JON REITER
HUNTINGBURG — Survivors. Champions.
Class 2A No. 2 Clarksville withstood a major challenge from upstart Austin in the Southridge Regional semifinal Saturday afternoon but outlasted the Eagles in overtime, 49-45. In the nightcap, the Generals went to overtime once again, turning back a challenge from Linton-Stockton, defeating the Miners 42-36 to advance to the semistate for the first time in school history.
It certainly wasn't easy, but as it has throughout the season, Clarksville proved up to the challenge.
"These kids were dead tired. Their legs were gone, but what you have to do at this time of the season is find a way to win," Clarksville coach Jason Connell said. "There are things we have to try and fix going into next week, but we're going to enjoy this one. That's for sure."
Clarksville senior Calvin McEwen was named tournament Most Valuable Player after scoring 16 points against Linton and 17 in Clarksville's win over Austin.
"I can't even begin to describe this feeling," McEwen said. "This is honestly the greatest feeling I've ever felt in my life. We really battled back, and it showed our toughness in the end of the fourth quarter and going into that overtime period. I love my guys and I love my coaches. It was just a great effort, and it feels great to be regional champs."
The 2A “chalk” showdown next weekend many predicted would happen will take place, as the Generals will face No. 1 Park Tudor next Saturday at a site to be determined.
In claiming the regional championship, Clarksville exacted some revenge over the Miners (20-7), who elminated them in the 2A Southridge Regional semifinal last season.
The contest was tight throughout. The Generals (22-2) held a five-point advantage on two different occasions during the first half, leading 13-8 with 12 seconds left in the first quarter after Andrew Jones fed reserve center Wyatt Kissell for a layin. Marquise Parrish scored inside off a another feed from Jones early in the second quarter that gave the Generals a 15-10 lead.
It was 17-13 Clarksville when Linton’s Bryant Jackson hit the second of his first-half 3-point attempts to narrow the margin to 17-16. Miners sophomore guard Joe Dieball scored on a short jumper next for the Miners to give his squad a 18-17 advantage.
After a missed shot with less than three minutes left in the first half, Clarksville senior guard Andrew Jones left the court and headed to the locker room to treat an hip injury he sustained in during the Generals' sectional championship win over Providence last week.
Linton headed into the half with a 20-19 lead.
The pace of the game slowed throughout the second half. After shooting 1 of 9 from the field during the third quarter, the Generals trailed Linton 26-23 heading into the fourth quarter.
With 4.4 seconds left, Linton guard Ryan Woodward sank two free throws to give his squad a 29-27 lead.
Off a Clarksville timeout, McEwen found Marquise Parrish beneath the Generals' basket for a layup at the buzzer that tied the game and sent it into overtime.
"We tried to get the ball to Calvin, then we tried to get it to Andrew ... but I was wide open, and Calvin made a play and gave it to me, " Parrish said.
In the overtime period, D.J. Coleman hit a short jumper to open the scoring for Clarksville, giving the Generals their first lead since 5:52 remaining in regulation.
Linton center Zachary Riddell scored inside next for the Miners to tie the ballgame with 2:25 remaining, but back-to-back baskets from McEwen and Ahem Yennes gave Clarksville the lead for good at 35-31 with just over a minute remaining.
Seniors Jones, McEwen and Coleman sank 5 of 6 free throws inside the final 25 seconds to secure the win.
"That's amazing," Coleman said. "We've worked hard. All of us have sacrificed for each other, for the school, for the community. You know, it's great. I love Clarksville with all my heart, so it's great to bring it to them. We're regional champs, Baby!”
Clarksville (22-2) held the lead for much of the afternoon contest against Austin, who it had defeated 51-42 on Jan. 18.
The Generals were the beneficiary of seven first-quarter turnovers by the Eagles and took a 16-7 lead with 21.8 seconds left in the first frame after center Wyatt Kissel scored inside off a feed from McEwen.
Austin guard Devin Richey — a former Henryville Hornet — nailed a 3-pointer with 7.1 seconds left in the first quarter to narrow the margin to 16-10 headed into the second quarter.
Richey's backcourt mate Brian Mayfield sank a 3-pointer from the top of the key to cut the deficit to 22-20 with 3:46 remaining in the first half. After Dakota Staschke followed up an Austin miss by laying the offensive rebound in off the glass, it was 25-22 Clarksville with 2:27 remaining prior to intermission.
Clarksville's stars gave the No. 2 Generals some breathing room headed into the half. McEwen, who nailed three 3-pointers in the first half, sank one from 25 feet away off the left wing with 1:22 remaining. After Clarksville gained the possession off a missed Austin shot, Clarksville held the ball for the last shot of the half.
After rotating the ball around the court for about a minute, McEwen found Jones at the top of the key for a 3-point attempt from about 27 feet away from the basket which found nothing but net with less than four seconds remaining.
The shot gave Clarksville a 31-22 lead headed into the break.
Jones, who came into the contest averaging 20 points per game, only scored five points, but the shot was a momentum-builder.
"Those were big shots, especially the second one," Connell said. "That gave us some confidence going into the second half, but that didn't last long, especially in the fourth quarter."
Clarksville led 39-31 after three quarters, but some uncharacteristic miscues to start the fourth quarter allowed the Eagles to creep back into the contest. Following a turnover, Hunter Spencer's field goal off a behind-the-back pass from Duncan Wooten gave Austin a 41-39 lead with about three minutes left in regulation.
Clarksville committed seven turnovers in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter, something that perplexed Connell following the contest.
"These guys are seniors [and] they've got to do a better job," Connell said. "I don't know if it was their pressure at all — we just started throwing the ball away."
McEwen, who led Clarksville with 17 points, hit two free throws with 1:32 remaining to tie the ballgame at 43 With 16.5 seconds left. Richey had the chance to give Austin the lead but missed the front end of a 1-and-1, and Parrish grabbed the rebound for the Generals. On Clarksville's final possession in regulation, McEwen's 3-point attempt from straight away missed, and the game headed into overtime.
A Coleman 3-pointer opened the scoring for Clarksville in the extra period and gave the Generals a 46-43 lead with three minutes remaining in overtime. After Wooten missed a 3-pointer that would have given Austin the lead, Yennes grabbed the rebound, was fouled, and sank two clutch free throws with 2.5 seconds left to allow the Generals to advance.
"It was a win," Connell said. "At this point, all these teams are good. So we're going to play another game, and that's what you want at this point."
CLASS 2A SOUTHRIDGE REGIONAL
CLARKSVILLE 42, LINTON-STOCKTON 36 (OT)
Clarksville 13 6 4 6 13—42
Linton-Stockton 10 10 6 3 7—36
Clarksville (23-2): Andrew Jones 10, Calvin McEwen 16, D.J. Coleman 7, Marquise Parrish 4, Wyatt Kissel 2, Ahem Yennes 2, Evan Guenthner 0, Nick Jones 2.
Linton-Stockton (20-7): Bryant Jackson 10, Joseph Dieball 2, Ryan Woodward 9, Joshua Dieball 6, Zachary Riddell 9, Beau Eaton 0.
Rebounds: Clarksville 22 (McEwen 7); Linton-Stockton 21 (Josh Dieball 5).
3-point goals: Clarksville 3 (McEwen 2, Coleman); Linton-Stockton 5 (Jackson 3, Woodward, Riddell).
Free throws: Clarksville 9-10, Linton-Stockton 7-12.
Turnovers: Clarksville 10, Linton-Stockton 11.
LINTON-STOCKTON 75, PERRY CENTRAL 65
Linton-Stockton 19 21 16 19—75
Perry Central 17 11 20 17—65
Linton-Stockton (20-6): Jackson 23, Joseph Dieball 9, Woodward 13, Joshua Dieball 4, Riddell 8, Eaton 18.
Perry Central (18-6): Trent Schaner 17, Andrew Huber 20, Nathan Schwartz 2, Dacota Schaad 1, Austin LeClere 11, Dillon Hubert 14.
CLARKSVILLE 49, AUSTIN 45
Clarksville 16 15 8 4 6—49
Austin 10 12 9 12 2—45
Clarksville (22-2): A. Jones 5, McEwen 17, Coleman 8, Parrish 6, Kissel 2, Yennes 6, Guenthner 5, N. Jones 0,
Austin (13-12): Chris Mayfield 6, Markus Fleenor 3, Devin Richey 15, Hunter Spencer 10, Duncan Wooten 8, Josh Turner 0, Dakota Staschke 0, Josh Vires 3.
Rebounds: Clarksville 18 (Coleman 5, Parrish 5); Austin 23 (Spencer 7).
3-point goals: Clarksville 7 (McEwen 4, Yennes 2, Coleman); Austin 5 (Mayfield 2, Richey, Fleenor, Vires).
Free throws: Clarksville 6-8, Austin 2-5.
Turnovers: Clarksville 18, Austin 18.