Clarksville High School’s basketball passed its first test with flying colors.
The second-ranked Generals got off to a quick start, fought off several Crawford County rallies and cruised to a 68-55 win Tuesday night in the first round of the Class 2-A Paoli Sectional.
Clarksville (19-3) will face Pekin Eastern (5-15) in Friday night’s second round. In the first game Friday night, Providence (14-6) will take on Henryville (3-17). Providence beat Paoli 53-43 in Tuesday’s other game.
* Clarksville coach Jason Connell said he has preached defense for the past few days, and that was the difference against the No. 8 Wolfpack (18-4). Clarksville-Crawford County:
“It all starts on the defensive end for us,” Connell said. “We’ve talked all year about that, and our defense was solid. … Lately we’ve been playing very soft defensively, and the kids know that. I thought it was an overall great effort on both ends of the floor.”
Connell said the game plan was simple: Keep Crawford County’s two solid guards, Ranger Caffrey and Brandon Cate, away from the basket. “We’ve not been doing that the last four or five games.”
Point guard Calvin McEwen agreed: “We haven’t defended very well in the last couple of games. We wanted to buckle down defensively and make that our focal point.”
With D.J. Coleman scoring eight points in the first quarter, the Generals led 19-10 after the first eight minutes.
Crawford County cut the lead to 20-17 when Caffrey drilled a 3-pointer with 5:08 left in the first half.
Then Clarksville’s Aham Yennes, who rarely scores, grabbed a rebound, hit a putback and converted an old-fashioned three-point play. The Generals didn’t allow Crawford County to get within six the rest of the way.
However, they did start to sweat late in the game after Andrew Jones, who led Clarksville with 21 points, fouled out with 2:15 left. “I was just trying to be aggressive,” Jones said.
Crawford County cut the deficit to 61-55 on a layup by Cate. From there, the Generals scored the last seven points.
Coleman and Marquise Parrish added the extra offensive punch for the Generals, scoring 16 points apiece.
“They’re the key,” Connell said. “When they play well, we’re tough.”
Caffrey, who hit three 3-pointers, led the Wolfpack with 22 points. Cate added 16.
* The Pioneers trailed 22-17 early in the third quarter but then outscored Paoli 19-5 the rest of the quarter en route to their win. The Rams (11-10) could get no closer than 45-40. Providence-Paoli:
Providence coach Lou Lefevre said it was nothing he said at halftime: “They made a good decision to go out and play hard. I didn’t say anything fabulous.”
Lefevre said the Pioneers, who scored just one point in the second quarter, came out with some fire. “We definitely outhustled them.”
Grant Goad led the Pioneers with 16 points and Ben Shahroudi, who sat most of the second quarter with two fouls, added 13.
Lefevre pointed to Shahroudi. “He made a lot happen defensively in the second half,” he said.
“Coach gave us some encouraging words,” Goad said. “It definitely picked us up. … He told us at halftime we could win the game. He didn’t give up on us.”
Tanner Wroblewski and Skyler Stroud paced Paoli with 16 points each.