By JON REITER
Despite a furious late-game rally in which Class 2A No. 8 Clarksville had a chance to tie it in regulation, the season ended for the Generals with a 65-62 loss to Linton-Stockton in the semifinals of the Southridge 2A Regional Saturday afternoon.
“This game was going to be a game of runs,” Clarksville Jason Connell said. “We got some really good looks throughout. Really good looks from the outside. But they wouldn’t let us get to the middle. I think that hurt us.”
Calvin McEwen’s 3-point attempt that came after the junior guard stole a Miners’ inbounds pass with 1.8 seconds remaining in regulation went long. But the fact that they had a chance to tie was remarkable given that with 42.4 seconds left in the contest, Linton forward Dess Fougerhousse sank two free throws to give No. 10 Linton (21-4) a 63-53 lead.
Then came the final Clarksville run. Junior guard Andrew Jones nailed a three-pointer for Clarksville (18-6) with 27.6 remaining, and off a Linton turnover McEwen sank another three-pointer to make the score 63-59 with 12.7 remaining.
After two free throws from 6-foot-8 Linton center Austin Karazia with 8.9 seconds remaining, Jones nailed another 3-pointer to cut the lead to three with 1.8 seconds left.
McEwen retrieved a very poor Linton inbounds pass the ball near the west sideline of historic Huntingburg Memorial Gymnasium, and his desperation three banked off the glass and the rim, and the Miners escaped with the win.
The Generals controlled most of the first half of the contest. Karazia, who averages more than 20 points per game, finally got his first bucket when a short jumper fell to trim the Clarksville lead to 25-19 with two minutes remaining in the first half, and the junior was just getting started.
He scored the final six points of the first half for Linton, with his final basket coming with 3.4 seconds remaining that tied 25-25 at the end of the first half. After a short jumper from Karazia and a 3-pointer from guard Keith Fulk to open the second half for the Miners, they never trailed again.
Karazia finished with 22 points, and Fougerhousse — Linton’s all-time leading scorer — ended with 21. But they were both overshadowed somewhat by the play of Jones, who led all scorers with 29 points.
All Jones did in Clarksville’s first regional berth since 1986 was sink 9 of 14 3-point attempts and almost single-handedly spur the Generals to the lead. He and McEwen will undoubtedly form the core of what should be another good Clarksville team next year.
“Andrew got a lot of those two looks because Calvin was able to get to the middle, kick it out and reverse it over to Andrew for a 3-pointer — and he’d hit them,” Connell said. “... I think they’re going to definitely be two of the best guards in all of Southern Indiana next year.”
After the game, Connell also expressed admiration, appreciation and disappointment on the outcome for his five departing seniors: Mason Spalding, Bailey McEwen, Jermargio Smith, Austin Johnson and Aidan McEwen — who has been Clarksville’s go-to player practically since he came to their basketball team as a freshman.
In his final game for Clarksville, Aidan McEwen finished with 13 points and six rebounds.
“I’m disappointed for them, but I also don’t want them to forget the great things they did for this school and community,” Connell said. “They ought to enjoy what they accomplished, which is pretty much everything they set out to do as a team. I’m sad too — you know, I’ve spent a lot of time with these five guys. I’ve gotten to know them [and] they truly are great kids. And you know the time where you get to see them every day is over.”
In the victory, Linton-Stockton was able to get to the free-throw line 30 times compared with Clarksville’s seven, another factor in the loss, Connell said.
The Miners beat Perry Central 68-63 on Saturday evening for their first regional crown since 1946. The Clarksville program is still without a regional title in its history.
CLASS 2A SOUTHRIDGE REGIONAL
LINTON-STOCKTON 65, CLARKSVILLE 62
Linton-Stockton 13 12 18 22—65
Clarksville 15 10 13 24—62
Clarksville (18-6): Jermargio Smith 4, Bailey McEwen 0, Austin Johnson 8, Aidan McEwen 13, Calvin McEwen 5, Andrew Jones 29, D.J. Coleman 0, Marquise Parrish 3.
Linton-Stockton (20-3): Bryant Jackson 3, Austin Karazia 22, Jackson Bohnert 14, Dess Fougerousse 21, Keith Fulk 5, Ryan Woodward 0.
Rebounds: Clarksville 22 (Jones 8); Linton-Stockton 25 (Karazia 11).
3-point goals: Clarksville 11 (Jones 9, A. McEwen, Parrish); Linton-Stockton 3 (Fulk, Jackson, Bohmert).
Turnovers: Clarksville 12, Linton-Stockton 20.
Free throws: Clarksville 5-7, Linton-Stockton 23-30.