One boys’ basketball team, ranked among the state’s best in Class 2-A and expected to go places in March, looked polished and prepared. The other, even with eye-catching athletes, was raw, not ready for public consumption.
So the result was a feast for one, a stomachache for the other.
No. 8 Clarksville debuted in style Tuesday night, crushing visiting Rock Creek 67-40. The Generals dominated from the warmups to the wrapup and kept their unbeaten streak against the Lions (0-1) intact.
Aidan McEwen scored 18 points and Austin Johnson added 17 as Clarksville cruised without a whisk of challenge or a frown of frustration. The Generals broke on top 20-3 and never had a moment of suspense as the lead swelled to 34 in the final quarter.
“We came out with good intensity like an experienced team should have,” Clarksville coach Jason Connell said. “We played really hard and did a lot of good things. That was my main concern.”
Johnson was the catalyst, scoring 11 first-quarter points while missing only one shot.
“It felt absolutely amazing, to be honest,” the senior forward said. “The rush is ridiculous.”
McEwen, quiet for the bulk of the first half, totaled 10 points in the third quarter to punctuate the punishment. They had plenty of perimeter support from Calvin McEwen (13 points) and D.J. Coleman (nine points, all on 3-pointers).
“We’ve talked to Austin,” Connell said. “He’s a senior, and we need him. He can’t go in spurts. He didn’t have to score last year, but now he can’t take two quarters off. He’s taken it to heart. Aidan didn’t score a bunch in the first half, and that’s good. That shows what we have around him.”
Rock Creek, for all its interior size with 6-foot-6 sophomores Ronald Karenzi and Gedeon Nzombi and 6-3 senior Devin Burt, couldn’t convert from close range and paid the price. Burt had 11 points and sophomore guard Will Brown had 10, but the Lions were overmatched.
“We’re not a good basketball team yet,” Rock Creek coach Chris Brown said. “We will be, I think, but we’re not yet. Our kids didn’t respond, obviously. I think we did more harm to ourselves than anything.”
Indeed, the Lions had self-inflicted damage. They had 21 turnovers, converted only 15 of 47 shots (many of the misses were point-blank in the paint), and couldn’t handle Clarksville’s multiple weapons.
Connell was eager to see his team in action after a lethargic scrimmage against Paoli last week. He could have saved the nervousness for later.
“Any time you start with a win like this, especially with the so-called pressure people put on us, it’s good,” Connell said. “Peyton Manning said pressure means you don’t know what you’re doing. These kids know what they’re doing.”
Rock Creek (0-1) – Karenzi 6, Joseph 2, Burt 11, Brown 10, Logsden 1, Gerth 5, Wilkinson 1, Nzombi 2, Pearson 2.
Clarksville (1-0) – Smith 2, Johnson 17, A. McEwen 18, Jones 4, C. MCEwen 13, Coleman 9, B. McEwen 4.
3-point goals – Johnson 1, A. McEwen 1, C. McEwen 2, Coleman 3, Jones 1, Brown 2.