The Pioneers missed their first eight shots, went scoreless in the first quarter and ultimately fell to host Clarksville 41-32 Friday night in a battle of crosstown rivals.
“It was all about our defense,” Clarksville coach Jason Connell said after his Generals (8-1) raced to a 12-0 lead. “That was the defense we saw against Jeff and Bowman Academy. I was very, very happy with that. Our defense carried us that first quarter.”
Not only did the Generals, ranked No. 4 in Class 2-A, hold Providence scoreless, they forced six turnovers.
Providence (6-2), though, wouldn’t go away.
“We kept playing hard and we kept playing defense,” said Providence coach Lou Lefevre. “We stayed around.”
The Pioneers used an 8-2 spurt in the second half to trim the deficit to 14-8 after Nick Hayes hit two free throws and a layup.
Clarksville never again led by double figures.
“It’s Providence,” Connell said. “It’s hard to get to the basket on them, and they do such a good job defensively.”
Connell said the Generals weren’t especially sharp. “We’re not moving the ball like we need to,” he said. “That’s the key. We’re not moving, passing and cutting like we were.” We just stand, stand, stand. That’s something we’ve got to continue to work on.”
Calvin McEwen, who was named the MVP for the winners, led Clarksville with 11 points. Andrew Jones and Nick Jones added 10 points apiece.
With a six-point lead, the Generals went to a spread offense early in the fourth quarter.
“If you’re patient, Calvin (McEwen) will find you,” Connell said. “You want the ball in his hands in a game like this. It has to be in his hands.”
Lefevre said his Providence team is getting better. “Have we made enough progress? I don’t know. Time is running out,” he said. “We’re about halfway through the year. … We’re making normal progress as a team. But that’s not going to be good enough. They have to make progression at a stunning speed for us to have a chance come playoff time.”
The Pioneers again struggled the at the free-throw line, where they made just 8 of 21.
Lefevre said he doesn’t see much hope for improvement at the free-throw line. “I’ve seen these players play for three years and they’ve never hit about 50 percent,” he said. “None of them. We’re stuck with that. That’s what we are. We have to overcome that.”
Freshman Claire Rauck hit six 3-pointers and scored 20 points to lead the Pioneers (11-3) past the Generals (3-11), who lost their ninth straight.* Providence girls 51, Clarksville 25:
Providence already has matched its win total for last year and needs just one more victory for most wins in a decade.
Haley Jenkins paced Clarksville with 13 points.