CLARKSVILLE EDGES PROVIDENCE 49-46
In the second semifinal, it looked as if Jones by himself might be enough to best the Pioners. The 6-foot-1 senior sank five of his seven 3-point attempts, both 2-point field goal attempts and 1 of 2 free throws as Clarksville held an eight-point lead after one quarter.
“I’m the first to tell you that he’s a tremendous player, and he’s as good as any guard around here,” Providence coach Lou Lefevre said. “I’m not taking anything away from him, but he got 20 points in the first quarter without really having to work very hard. We treated him like he was a reserve from on their bench and not anything special. We weren’t worried where he was, we weren’t worried about leaving him wide open. That was disappointing.”
The Pioneers were able to narrow the gap to 28-25 at the half, but it looked like Clarksville was poised to put their archrivals away with 2:53 left in the third quarter, when Marquise Parrish’s 3-pointer gave Clarksville a 41-28 lead.
If Lefevre was disappointed by his squad’s defensive performance on Jones, Clarksville coach Jason Connell said he was equally disappointed with his team’s lack of focus in playing with the lead.
Providence managed to crawl back into the contest by virtue of an 13-1 run over the next five minutes, drawing within one after forward Nick Hayes backed down Clarksville center Aham Yennes in the post and scored off the glass to make the score 42-41 with 5:17 remaining.
The Pioneers tied the contest at 46 after Calvin McEwen’s missed free throw landed in the hands of Providence forward Grant Goad, who drove the length of the court and scored with 1:09 remaining. Goad led Providence with 16 points and 9 rebounds.
“I hate to be this critical after a win, but I told the guys this was their worst defensive effort of the season,” Connell said. “There were a couple of times that Goad got the ball and was able to go straight to the basket without having anybody get in front of him. That’s just not good defensive effort.”
On Clarksville’s next possession, Jones knocked down two free throws after being fouled by Providence guard Ben Shahroudi, and Parrish sank 1 of 2 with 13.4 remaining for the final margin.
Providence had the ball under their basket down three with 5.4 seconds remaining, but Hayden’s 3-point attempt was short and the Generals captured the win.
“We didn’t play hard, that’s just a fact,” Connell said. “We’re happy to get the win, don’t get me wrong, but this wasn’t our best effort.”