CLARKSVILLE — It was a split in the annual city championship on Friday with the Clarksville boys’ basketball squad capturing a 41-32 win over archrival Providence. The Pioneers were an easy winner in the girls’ championship, besting the Generals 51-25.
GENERAL BOYS HANG ON
Class 2A No. 8 Providence (6-2) was anemic from the field in the first quarter, missing all eight of its shot attempts. In the meantime, the Class 2A No. 4 Generals (8-1) were a relatively efficient 4-of-9 from the field, with game MVP Calvin McEwen and backcourt mate Andrew Jones sinking both of their respective free-throw attempts.
On the defensive side, Clarksville’s pressure forced Providence into seven first-quarter turnovers. It all added up to a 12-0 lead for the Generals at the end of the first quarter.
“We defended well in the first half, and then we came out in the third quarter, and we just forgot what we were doing,” Clarksville coach Jason Connell said. “Defensively, that was maybe the best we played all season [in the first quarter]. That was what got us the lead. Not our offense.”
Pioneer guard Grant Goad, playing with two early fouls, broke the Providence dry spell with a 3-pointer from the left wing with 5:48 remaining before halftime. The Pioneers continued to whittle away at the lead, trailing 18-9 at intermission.
With all that went wrong for the Pioneers in the first quarter, it was still pretty remarkable that they were only trailing by single digits at the end of the first half, said Providence coach Lou Lefevre.
“We often miss eight shots in a row. We’re not great shooters,” Lefevre said. “What was really bad was that I think we were called for five travels in the first quarter. We didn’t get to shoot, and I think if that hadn’t have happened maybe we’re 2-of-13 in the first quarter. In a game like this, that’s big.
“The bottom line is we started off a game like we might lose by 50. But we kept playing hard, and we kept playing defense, and we stayed around in the game. When we started to get chances to shoot, some of them start to go in. We got within striking distance.”
Baskets from Aham Yennes and Jones to start the second half tilted the wheels toward the Generals again as they led 22-9 with 6 minutes remaining in the third quarter. A 7-0 Providence run, capped by two free throws from forward Brad Koerner, over the ensuing 3:12 brought Providence to within six at 22-16.
The score was 26-19 at the end of the third quarter. Brock Hayden nailed a 3-pointer for Providence to open the fourth quarter and trim the margin to 26-22 with 7:41 remaining.
Jones, who was one of three General players in double figures with 10 points, was charged with three fouls in the third quarter and sat for much of the fourth quarter.
That forced the Generals to slow down their half-court offense. But McEwen found an unsung hero in reserve forward Nick Jones, who scored in two consecutive Clarksville possessions off feeds from the Clarksville guard.
Nick Jones finished with 10 points, and his bucket with 4:43 remaining gave Clarksville a 30-23 lead and the Pioneers were unable to get any closer.
“Nick Jones, he made a couple of huge baskets for us tonight,” Connell said. “People focus on Andrew and Calvin. But when we find him under the basket, the kid knows how to score. That was huge.”
Poor foul shooting plagued the Pioneers once again, converting 8-of-22 from the stripe.
“I’ve watched these kids shoot free throws for three years,” Lefevre said. “These kids haven’t been good foul shooters, and in a big game, it gets worse. They need to practice, yes, but it’s very hard to undo four or six years of poor free-throw shooting.”
McEwen led all scorers with 11 points. Providence center Nick Hayes scored six points and grabbed six rebounds to earn game MVP honors for the Pioneers.
Both teams will have game tonight. Providence will travel to Madison Shawe, while the Generals will host New Washington.