When the Clarksville faithful think back to their basketball squad’s 88-69 Senior Night victory over Henryville on Tuesday, they might remember Billy Edelen’s 20-point half.
It’s possible that they’ll recall Aidan McEwen’s 22 points and eight boards in the win. They could even remember the Generals draining 12 3-pointers.
But the scene that Clarksville fans will certainly take with them is that of senior A.J. Ebling being hoisted on the shoulders of his teammates after draining a trey from the wing as the game clock expired.
“It’s funny because I kneeled down and I was watching the ball from the angle, and I was like, ‘Please go in. Please go in.’ It was great,” Clarksville coach Jason Connell said. “The kids, that’s what they wanted to do. They wanted to get him a shot.”
They actually got Ebling several. The Generals (18-2) spent the first three minutes of the contest trying to dish the team’s manager some opportunities in the paint, but nothing would drop. With Henryville (9-11) darting out to a 14-3 lead, Connell elected to put his regular starters in the game.
“On Senior Night, you play your kids,” Connell said. “I was going to ride them as long as I could and get them some minutes on Senior Night. All in all, they did a good job. Getting A.J. out there was really awesome. Win or lose, he was going to play.”
That’s when Clarksville flexed its muscles, erasing the deficit behind Edelen and McEwen, who combined for 22 of the Generals’ 23 second-quarter points. The home team would never look back.
“There were different points in the game where we had shots around the basket and we’ve got to have those,” Henryville coach Perry Hunter said. “It’s hard enough to score sometimes, but I mean, we scored 69 points. That’s plenty of points.”
Henryville just couldn’t find a way to stop Clarksville from dropping bombs from beyond the arc. Edelen downed four triples in the first half, while teammate Jake Hartlage scored 14 of his 17 points in the third quarter, including four more 3s. Clarksville opened the third frame on an 11-0 run, and the Hornets would never get closer than 12 points of the lead for the rest of the contest.
“The last three or four games, we haven’t shot the ball well from 3-point range. It was good to see some guys knock some down and get their confidence going, especially this time of year,” Connell said. “You want the guys shooting the ball and having confidence, and we’re getting that back.”
Despite a strong showing from its starters, Clarksville’s Senior Night was about a player who rarely sees the court.
Ebling isn’t the type of player that gets minutes on Class 2A’s No. 9 team. But he’s earned the respect of his peers.
“He loves the game so much, and you can just see how much it means to him to go out there and be a part of what we’re doing, to be a part of the history that we’re making,” Edelen said.
Ebling finally found his way back on the court in the game’s waning minutes. With less that two minutes to go and the Generals up 80-63, Ebling returned to the court. Clarksville’s Jeremy Noe sank a 3-pointer, and then Edelen found himself with the ball after a fruitless Henryville possession.
“I got the rebound. I looked up the court and A.J.’s running. I thought, ‘I’ve got to get it to him,’” Edelen recalled. “So I drove in and the guy that was guarding him kind of came in on me, so I kind of handed it off to him and I just kind of moved the guy out of the way so he could get it. I was just like, ‘Make it A.J. Just make it.’ And he got it, and I was happy for him.”
So were the rest of the fans in attendance, who let out a deafening roar when Ebling tallied his first two points. But the buzzer-beating 3 blew the roof off of the gym.
“He’s at practice every day and he practices with us sometimes. We feel like he’s one of us,” McEwen said. “Just seeing him score tonight and getting happy, it was like a dream come true for all of us because he’s like a little brother.”
Edelen led all scorers with 27 points.
For Henryville, Tyler Collins put up 25 points, while Dakota Harrell had 10 points to go with nine rebounds. The Hornets outrebounded the Generals, 30-27.
“(Clarksville’s) 18-2 for a reason,” Hunter said.
HENRYVILLE 17 14 16 22—69
CLARKSVILLE 14 23 26 25—88
Henryville (9-11) — Embry 3, Harrell 10, Collins 25, Richey 14, Everage 6, Jones 7, Reister 4.
Clarksville (18-2) — C. McEwen 6, Hartlage 17, Noe 3, Edelen 27, Johnson 8, A. McEwen 22, Ebling 5.
3-point field goals — Henryville 6 (Embry, Collins, Jones, Richey 2, Everage); Clarksville 12 (C. McEwen, Hartlage 4, Noe, Edelen 4, Johnson, Ebling).
Rebounds — Henryville 30 (Harrell 9); Clarksville 27 (A. McEwen 8).
Turnovers — Henryville 11, Clarksville 10.
Free throws — Henryville 11-18, Clarksville 16-26.