Clarksville had a double-digit lead midway through the fourth quarter, then had to hold off a Floyd Central rally to edge the host Highlanders 43-41 in high school boys’ basketball Tuesday night.
“Our kids are mentally tough,” said Clarksville coach Jason Connell. “You’ve got to learn how to win.”
Clarksville (2-0), ranked No. 7 in Class 2-A, never trailed as Class 4-A Floyd Central fell in its season opener.
Leading by nine at the start of the fourth quarter, the Generals looked to be in control with an 11-point lead (40-29) with just more than two minutes left.
Floyd Central responded as it had all night, and when Allen Truong knocked down a 3-pointer, it was 40-34 with just 1:20 left in the game. But a press-breaking pass to Jermargio Smith led to a Clarksville basket and the Generals were up 42-34 with 42 seconds remaining. That basket turned out to be the deciding factor.
Floyd Central closed out the last 19 seconds of the game with a field goal by Drew Hussung and a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Truong, those five unanswered points made the final margin.
“I thought our kids played hard,” said Floyd Central coach Randy Gianfagna. “We’ve just got to finish.”
Clarksville’s defense had Floyd Central on its heels early, and when the Generals’ Calvin McEwen hit two 3-pointers in a row the visitors led 8-2 with 3:35 left in the first quarter.
The Highlanders bounced back with baskets by Codie Hamsley and Truong, making it 8-6 at the two-minute mark. Clarksville’s Andrew Jones closed out the quarter with a basket and a steal as the Generals held a 10-6 lead.
Jones started the second quarter as he finished the first, knocking down a basket at the 7:20 mark to make it 12-6. Moments later Aidan McEwen scored to help Clarksville match its biggest lead of the half, 14-8.
Floyd Central responded as Colton Kimm knocked down two free throws and Hussung hit a 3-pointer to make it 14-13 at the 3:45 mark. Hussung added another basket in the final seconds as Floyd Central trailed just 16-15 at the break.
Clarksville’s defense continued to press the action early in the third quarter while on the offensive end, Smith made his presence known.
“The third quarter killed us,” said Gianfagna.
In the opening four minutes of the quarter, Smith had an offensive rebound, hit two field goals and a three. His seven points during that span helped the Generals to 23-19 lead.
Leading 27-20 inside the final two minutes of the third quarter, the Generals got a boost from Aidan McEwen, who had two free throws and a steal and lay-in to give Clarksville its first double-digit lead of the game, 31-20, with 1:05 remaining.
The third quarter ended with a flurry of scoring. Floyd Central’s Jackson Logsdon scored with 50 seconds left to end the Clarksville run.
With the score 31-22, a pair of reserves hit big shots for both teams. Clarksville’s D.J. Coleman scored a 3-pointer to make it 34-22 — the Generals’ biggest lead of the game — and Floyd Central’s Trevor Smith answered at the buzzer as Clarksville took a 34-25 lead into the fourth quarter.
Clarksville (2-0) – Jones 8, C. McEwen 7, A. McEwen 10, J. Smith 11, Coleman 3, Johnson 4.
Floyd Central (0-1) – Truong 10, Hamsley 6, T. Smith 8, Hussung 9, Kimm 6, Logsdon 2.
3-point goals – C. McEwen 2, Hussung 1, J. Smith 1, T. Smith 1, Truong 2.