By JON REITER
PAOLI — No. 2 Clarksville notched their second consecutive Class 2A Paoli Sectional crown on Saturday, defeating crosstown rival Providence 41-32 in a contest that showed blowout potential early but tightened late.
With the win, Clarksville advances to Saturday’s Southridge regional, where it will face Austin, which the Generals defeated 51-41 on Jan. 18, at in the second regional semifinal at 1 p.m. If they win, they'll take on either Linton-Stockton, which defeated Clarksville in last year's regional, or the winner of Sectional 48. Perry Central and Evansville Mater Dei will face off for the Sectional 48 title on Monday because of Mater Dei’s girls’ run to the state championship game.
"It's a good feeling to be here and to do it again," said guard Andrew Jones, who scored six points in the win for Clarksville. "We've got a chance to go [ into the Southridge Regional) next week again, and I'm looking forward to going there and trying to win it."
The Generals had defeated Providence twice already earlier in the season, 49-46 in the semifinals of the Silver Creek Holiday Tournament on Dec. 27 and 41-32 in the Jan. 10 city championship at Clarksville.
A competitive but slow-paced first quarter saw the No. 2 Generals hold an 8-6 lead at the end of the first eight minutes.
Back-to-back 3-pointers from D.J. Coleman and Calvin McEwen increased the lead to 14-6 two minutes into the second quarter.
From there, the lead swelled. The score was 21-7 at the end of the first half.
Holding the explosive Generals to 21 points in the first half would have been a positive development, but the Pioneers couldn't find the basket. Overall, Providence was 2 for 20 in the first half and 0 for 11 in the second quarter alone.
Providence's lone second quarter score came when reserve forward Daniel Schuler sank 1 of 2 free throws with 4:32 remaining.
"We didn't play badly in the first half. We played offense the way we wanted to play offense," Providence coach Lou Lefevre said. "We got lots of good chances, but we got the ball underneath the basket a half-dozen times with the chance to finish and we couldn't. Sometimes it's a game of makes and misses. If we would have shot in terms of our ability, it could have been 21-16, 21-17 going into the half."
Clarksville extended the lead throughout the third quarter and led by 17 at 29-12 after Coleman hit a short jumper in the lane with two minutes remaining.
The Providence comeback commenced after Coleman's jumper. Juston Betz and Brock Hayden hit back-to-back 3s to get things started for the Pioneers, who trailed 29-18 heading into the fourth quarter.
Providence ratcheted up its defensive intensity to start the fourth quarter, forcing Clarksville into three turnovers within the first two minutes. Consecutive Providence scores by center Nick Hayes made the score 31-24 with 4:38 remaining.
Pioneer guard Grant Goad sank a 3-pointer with 2:05 remaining in the contest that brought Providence to within six at 35-29. Goad got another good look from 3-point range 30 seconds later but missed the mark, and Coleman got the rebound. His two free throws with 1:15 remaining gave Clarksville a 37-29 lead, and Providence threat was essentially over.
Inside the final 2 minutes and 32 seconds of the contest, Coleman, who finished with 11 points, sank 6 of 6 free throws.
"That's what you want your seniors to do — make free throws down the stretch," Clarksville coach Jason Connell said. "You know, it was the same kind of game we played against them in January. Defensively, we were great. I didn't know if we'd hold them to seven points. We can score, but defensively, that is what will determine how far we're able to advance."
Holding the sectional trophy and his piece of the net, Coleman was grinning ear-to-ear when discussing his return trip to Southridge next week.
"I can't wait to get back to that gym," he said. "It's a great atmosphere. It reminds me of 'Hoosiers.' I'm going to be excited to get back there again."
Providence says goodbye to six seniors: Goad, Hayes, Hayden, Schuler, Brad Koerner and Ben Shahroudi — all of whom were either starters for the Pioneers or major contributors.
After the contest, Lefevre reflected upon the accomplishments of those players. They took over for a core group that reached the semistate in 2011-12 and won 19 games last season, but most of them did not see an overwhelming amount of varsity minutes before this season.
"I knew it'd be tough because we replaced our entire lineup. If we had ended up winning five games, I might not have been surprised," Lefevre said. "Fifteen and seven — basic math tells me we outplayed 70 percent of the teams we played. So, they did a good job. We could have done a few things better, you always can. They played this last game against a good team the right way and they did it unselfishly. We just didn't come out ahead."
CLASS 2A PAOLI SECTIONAL
CLARKSVILLE 41, PROVIDENCE 32
Providence 6 1 11 14—32
Clarksville 8 13 8 12—41
Providence (15-7): Grant Goad 4, Juston Betz 3, Ben Shahroudi 6, Brock Hayden 6, Tre Watson 0, Daniel Schuler 3, Brad Koerner 2, Nick Hayes 8, Dawson Mitchell 0, Alex Judd 0.
Clarksville (21-2): Andrew Jones 6, Calvin McEwen 14, D.J. Coleman 11, Evan Guenthner 4, Marquise Parrish 0, Aham Yennes 4, Nick Jones 0, Keigan Fetz 0, Wyatt Kissell 2.
Rebounds: Providence 22 (Goad 7); Clarksville 24 (Coleman, A. Jones, Kissel 6).
3-point field goals: Providence 4 (Goad, Betz, Hayden 2); Clarksville 3 (McEwen, Coleman, Guenthner).
Free throws: Providence 6-11, Clarksville 14-20.
Turnovers: Providence 9, Clarksville 10.