By JON REITER
As far as swan songs go, Tuesday night’s farewell was a pretty good one for Aidan McEwen and the other four seniors on Clarksville’s boys’ basketball team.
The Class 2A No. 6 Generals opened up an early lead on visiting Mid-Southern Conference foe North Harrison, saw the Cougars get back in it during the second quarter, and ultimately pulled away on Senior Night for a 71-53 win.
“It was pretty emotional to play in front of the fans, and in front of our families and classmates for the last time,” said McEwen, who paced the hosts with 20 points and 13 rebounds. “You definitely go into a game like this with the mindset that you want to win one more in front of your home crowd, and thankfully we were able to do that tonight.”
Clarksville started its five seniors — McEwen, center Bailey McEwen, forward Austin Johnson and guards Mason Spalding and Jermargio Smith — and jumped out to a 13-3 lead with 4:29 remaining in the first quarter, after Smith scored a layup off a feed from Calvin McEwen.
The Generals (14-4, 8-1 MSC) led 19-10 at the end of the first quarter, but saw the Cougars pull to within four, 22-18, when junior guard Joe Hinton notched a steal and basket with 5:39 remaining in the first half.
After a lengthy Clarksville possession, junior guard Calvin McEwen nailed a 3-pointer for the Generals to make it 25-18. While North Harrison (12-6, 6-3) cut the deficit to within five points twice over the remainder of the first half, it trailed at intermission, 32-24.
“We’ve got to do some things a little better to get ready for the tournament. But for us to get off to a start like that with our seniors on Senior Night, that was great,” Clarksville coach Jason Connell said. “We shot the ball well and our defense was pretty good overall.”
Aidan McEwen notched 12 points in the first half, and where he left off in the second half, Johnson and junior guard Andrew Jones stepped up.
Johnson scored 11 of his 16 points in the second half. Jones, who gave Clarksville its first double-digit lead with a 3-pointer that made the score 36-25 with 7:22 remaining in the third quarter, finished with 11 points, eight of which came in the second half.
Smith added 10 points and Calvin McEwen almost made it five double-digit scorers for Clarksville with nine points. The Generals really stretched out their lead in the fourth quarter and went deep into their bench in the remaining minutes.
But it was Aidan McEwen who set the tone early and imposed his will on the Cougars early.
“He came out with a little bit of fire in him,” Connell said. “People will look at his numbers and say they’re a little bit down this season. That doesn’t have anything to do with the way he’s played. That says more about the balance our team has, and how unselfish he plays, and the rest of our team plays.”
Clarksville will have another tough matchup on Friday night, when it travels to Class A No. 9 Borden before finishing up next Tuesday at Henryville.
The Generals still have a chance to clinch a share of the MSC title. For that to happen, MSC leader and Class 3A No. 4 Brownstown Central (18-1, 8-0) must lose its home game on Friday against Eastern (9-9, 3-5).
Guard Corey Smith led North Harrison with 18 points.