Every time Clarksville High made a run, Kenwood had an answer.
That would be the theme for much of the night as the Wildcats continued to try to claw their way out of a difficult start to the basketball season.
But Kenwood would do CHS no favors Tuesday night as the Knights claimed a 59-50 District 10 victory at William Workman Gym.
The Wildcats had the lead for much of the first quarter, only to see Kenwood take a 12-11 lead at the end of it. After trailing by six in the second quarter, Clarksville battled to within two before Kenwood opened up a 27-21 lead just before halftime.
Clarksville managed to trail by only a point at the break before giving up the second half’s first five points to the Knights. And that would continue for much of the game as CHS fell to 0-7 on the season and 0-2 in district despite another competitive game put up by Clarksville.
Wildcats coach Ted Young has a young, inexperienced group of mainly freshmen and sophomores in the lineup, and the Wildcats already have a one-point loss to Franklin, a two-point loss to Northeast and a four-point loss to Beech to start the season.
“We’ve put ourselves in position really all year long to make runs in ballgames,” Young said. “We just haven’t been able to produce that win yet. But this is a journey, and our journey is just beginning.”
Kenwood improved to 6-1 and 2-0 in district play, but Knights coach John Stigall wasn’t enthusiastic about Tuesday’s win.
“We have to figure out what kind of team we need to be,” Stigall said. “I think we play well in spurts, and the effort is there. We do have lapses at times, but if we can figure out what kind of team we’re going to be, I think we’ll be much better off. We also play at least three freshmen, and so we have a lot of new faces and parts that we’re still trying to figure out where to put.”
Kenwood star, and Eastern Kentucky signee, Daniel Norl led all scorers with 23 points. His basket with 3:39 left in the third quarter gave the Knights a 38-29 lead, but the Wildcats mounted another rally, going on a 7-2 run to cut the lead to 40-36 with 27 seconds left in the third. J.J. Jones’ steal and two foul shots got CHS within two points before Jamario Rivers nailed a basket at the buzzer to give Kenwood a 42-38 advantage entering the final quarter.
The Knights kept Clarksville at bay in the fourth period.
“We do have experienced guys who know how to finish games,” Stigall said. “And Clarksville High is young, but you can tell they will be a very, very good team by the end of the regular season. You can tell that. But for us, it makes it easier when you have guys like Daniel and Jamario (Rivers) and guys like that.”
Rivers finished with 17 points while Kenya Mosley added eight in the victory.
Clarksville handled the paint well, nearly equaling Kenwood on the glass, but Young’s team missed 12 free throws. Jones finished with 17 points, while Avery Bates added 12 for CHS in the loss.
“That’s easy points that when you leave out there, it’s really hard to get that back unless you do a fantastic job on the offensive glass,” Young said. “You knock down a couple of the front ends of 1-and-1’s, and it could be a different ball game.”
Clarksville had four straight empty possessions to start the fourth quarter, while Kenwood converted on its first three possessions. The Wildcats also missed both 1-and-1 foul shots early in the fourth. That contributed to a 14-point Kenwood lead after Mosley’s 3-pointer from the wing with 5:04 left in the game, and the Wildcats played catch-up the rest of the way.
“I liked the way we played for most of the game,” Stigall said. “But it’s still only December. There’s a lot of basketball left, so we’re going to go back and work hard and get better and see what it yields.”