By GREG MENGELT
> SOUTHERN INDIANA —
It took the state’s No. 1 team and one of its top players to finally end Clarksville’s historic run.
Clarksville’s 23-win season that included the program’s first regional championship came to an end Saturday with a 76-64 loss at the hands of Class 2A No. 1 Park Tudor, the program that has won two of the last three 2A titles.
“It’s a sad moment,” Connell said. “But it’s also a great moment because of the bar that they set.”
“We came together as brothers, and we accomplished all of the goals we wanted to accomplish,” McEwen said. “I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to play this game with.”
While it could be argued that the teams of the late-70s and mid-80s were actually better teams, the 2013-14 Generals accomplished more than any Clarksville team before them.
The Generals came into the season as the favorites to win sectional and regional titles and were expected to battle Corydon Central and Brownstown Central for Mid-Southern Conference supremacy, and they let no one down.
Ranked 10th to start the season, Clarksville won its first five games in convincing fashion, including a 63-45 win over Clark County giant Jeffersonville.
After a close loss to defending 2A champion and 3A No. 2 Bowman Academy — a loss that said as much about the Generals as any win they had — they reeled off eight more wins and landed at No. 1 in the Feb. 6 AP poll.
That winning streak included a Silver Creek Holiday Tournament championship and a 79-76 overtime win over Corydon, which eventually led to a share of the MSC crown with the Panthers and Brownstown.
After a loss to Brownstown on Feb. 10, Clarksville didn’t lose again until Saturday at the Seymour Semistate. The Generals closed the regular season with a 56-53 win over rival Silver Creek that clinched its second MSC title in three years.
The sectional started with an impressive 68-55 triumph over No. 8 Crawford County. After beating Eastern 67-45 in the semifinals, Clarksville won consecutive sectional titles — 41-32 over crosstown rival Providence — for the first time since 1979 and just the second time.
Then came the real history. On March 15, the Generals scored a pair of overtime wins to claim the school’s first regional championship. They beat MSC-rival Austin 49-45 before taking down defending regional champion Linton 42-36 for the crown.
“Hopefully when people remember us, I hope they look at a team that might not have been the most talented in Clarksville history, but I want them to look back at us and say we battled harder than anybody,” senior Calvin McEwen said.
The end result Saturday was a loss to Park Tudor. The lasting image will be a team that battled the top-ranked Panthers nearly to the wire.
“I hope that we’re remembers as a good team who fought, was respectful and good kids,” senior Andrew Jones said.
Senior Marquise Parrish believes the 2013-14 Generals will be role models for the future of the Clarksville program.
“I think we’ll be remembered well,” he said. “I think the kids below us [at Clarksville] will do the same thing and eventually get a state title.”
BLUEITT THE REAL DEAL
Park Tudor’s Trevon Blueitt may become one of those players that Clarksville fans will watch in the future and say, “I remember watching him play in high school.”
The Mr. Basketball and McDonald’s All-American candidate will continue his basketball career at Xavier next season after decommiting from Steve Alford and UCLA last summer.
Blueitt may also have the talent to play professionally one day. The one thing that’s certain is that Clarksville had no answers for the 6-foot-6 senior on Saturday. He finished with 36 points, 17 rebounds and four assists — all in the first half of the Panthers’ 76-64 triumph.
“We couldn’t have done anything [differently] to stop him,” Clarksville coach Jason Connell admitted. “We knew coming in he was going to get his points. Our job was to shut other people down.”
On Saturday, Blueitt and the Panthers will face Westview for the Class 2A state championship. If Park Tudor wins the crown, Blueitt will join rare company — and a couple of current NBA players — as a three-time high school champion.
“It means a lot,” Blueitt said. “Not too many people can go and have a chance to play for three state championships in four years. [Lawrence North’s] Greg Oden and Mike Conley did it and it’s nice to be in the same category as them.”