CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — Most who recall the ice storm that ravaged the midstate last Feburary also recall how it wreaked havoc on district tournament basketball schedules throughout. It led to the eventual cancellation of the District 10-AAA tournament just as the district championship was set to begin.
It was the first time in memory that the district tournament title game was not held, and, therefore, no tournament champion was crowned.
Early December high school basketball is too early to proclaim a district champ, but that atmosphere for a tournament title game was in the air Tuesday night as rival Rossview and Clarksville High girls teams squared off for the first time this season.
And for the first time, both teams entered the game without a loss.
The Lady Wildcats rallied from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter to tie the game, but Rossview’s experience settled its nerves as the Lady Hawks weathered the storm to knock off CHS 60-54 in a district game Tuesday at Rossview High School.
“That was fun to be a part of,” Rossview coach Justin Woods said. “That was too really good teams getting after each other. It was a game of runs, and Clarksville made its run late at us, and we stumbled, but our girls have been here before. They’ve seen these kinds of games. They’ve been in these kinds of games, and that helped us down the stretch.”
Clarksville High’s full court pressure forced Rossview into 13 turnovers on the night.
Much of those came in the first half and in the fourth quarter. Four times the Lady Wildcats were able to deflect outlet passes off a Rossview defensive rebound.
And often the ball found its way to forward Prasha Fair. She scored seven of the Lady Wildcats’ eight straight points in a two-minute time span late in the game that saw Rossview’s lead dwindle to just one, 48-47.
But foul shooting from Rossview’s veteran players calmed the seas. Junior Karle Pace, whose 3-pointers as a freshman in a sectional lifted the Lady Hawks to its first ever state tournament appearance, knocked down three of four foul shots in the closing minutes.
Liz Quinio, whose coast-to-coast running jumper as time expired in last year’s region semifinal vaulted Rossview (9-0, 1-0) into the region title game, sank four of six from the foul line and came up with a huge steal under her own basket.
It all resulted in Rossview keeping Clarksville High at bay as the Lady Wildcats (7-1, 0-1) lost for the first time this season.
“Liz and Haylee (Croom) were huge down the stretch for us,” Woods said. “Their foul shooting and rebounding allowed us to stay in the game when Clarksville made its run. Karle was a big part of that too. That’s what experience can do. When it’s on the line, you look for that veteran leadership.”
Croom dominated the interior in the first half. She finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds, six of which came on the offensive glass. Rossview finished with 10 offensive rebounds. Semaija Ogburn finished with 10 points and eight boards while Pace added 10.
Fair led Clarksville with 17 points while Aliyah Miller added 12.
“I told the girls that this was going to be a battle,” CHS coach Brian Rush said. “But after the game, I told them I loved our effort. We never quit. And this won’t be the last time we face Rossview. We’ll play them again in January where the stakes will be just as high as it was (Tuesday) night. Maybe down the line, we’ll see them again.”
Rossview controlled the tempo early but Clarksville quickly inserted its full-court pressure. J.K. Cummings drained a 3-pointer with 2:46 left in the first quarter to cut the Lady Hawks’ lead to 9-8. But Rossview went into the second quarter with a 13-8 advantage.
The Lady Wildcats scored the first two baskets of the second quarter before Rossview responded with three straight buckets to take a 19-12 lead. The two teams traded baskets for the remainder of the half with the Lady Hawks holding a 27-24 lead at the break.
Rossview would stretch the lead to eight in the third quarter but couldn’t quite put Clarksville away, and by the final period, the Lady Wildcats made its move. Fair would score 11 of her 17 in the fourth, but it wasn’t enough.
“If you throw in the rivalry of two really good teams, it just stirs up the pot even more,” Rush said. “The crowd was incredible. We knew what Rossview was bringing back, but we’ve had our group together for three years now too.
“This group has jelled. We’ve got 10 girls that can contribute, and all 10 gave us something (Tuesday).”
Reach Prep writer George Robinson at 931-245-0747 and on Twitter @Cville_Sports.