CLARKSVILLE 68, CRAWFORD COUNTY 55
An intense atmosphere awaited the two most accomplished teams in the sectional, and the Generals were up to the task from the beginning.
Class 2A No. 2 Clarksville trailed 6-5 when it ran off the game’s next nine points to take a lead it would never lose, aided by hot starts from Marquise Parrish and D.J. Coleman.
“Those two guys are the key,” said Clarksville coach Jason Connell. “When those two guys play like that, we’re tough to beat.”
Parrish knifed into the lane for a series of pull-up jumpers, while Coleman handled things from outside, knocking down two 3s in the first period to help the Generals take a 19-10 edge after the first eight minutes.
That doesn’t mean it was easy.
The Wolfpack (18-4) put pressure on Clarksville’s lead throughout, getting to within 20-17 on a 3 from Ranger Caffrey. Still, the Generals always had an answer, coming right back with a three-point play from Aham Yennes that jump-started a 7-0 burst that made it 27-17.
That’s when things took an odd turn.
The intensity of the matchup finally spilled over when Parrish was called for a technical foul after being knocked down and becoming tangled up with Caffrey. The reason for the call was unclear, but the Crawford guard seemed to take it personally. He knocked down the two free throws and then a 3 on the ensuing possession to make it 27-22. An offensive foul then gave the Wolfpack the ball back as halftime loomed.
Crawford — with only one senior on the roster — then found out how much of a difference an upperclassman can make, as Clarksville’s Andrew Jones stole the ball near midcourt and laid it in just as time expired, erasing Crawford’s chance to draw closer and sending the Generals into the locker room with a 29-22 edge.
Jones came out of the break just as hot, hitting a 3-pointer and delivering on a 3-point play to grow the Clarksville lead to 35-22. From there, the Generals defense held Crawford County in check and never allowed a serious run.
“That’s what we’ve been preaching all week,” Connell said. “Which team was going to show up? The hard-nosed defensive team that knows how to win, or the soft defensive team that we’ve seen our last four games. The hard-nosed team showed up.”
Crawford kept fighting and kept fouling throughout the final period, at one point getting to within 61-55 with 57.1 seconds to go. But Clarksville continued to take care of business at the stripe, getting 18 of its final 20 points at the foul line, including four in a row from Coleman to put the Wolfpack away.
Jones, who fought foul trouble throughout and eventually picked up his fifth late in the contest, had 21 points to lead the Generals. Coleman and Parrish had 16 each for Clarksville and Calvin McEwen had nine points and five assists and provided a steady presence as Crawford tried to force mistakes in its last gasp.
Crawford got 22 points from Caffrey and 16 from Brandon Cate, but the rest of the team was held mostly silent by a Clarksville defense that forced the normally-steady Wolfpack into 14 turnovers.