The Generals cut a 40-25 lead to 42-36 in the final minutes before falling short.
“Clarksville fights and battles,” said Providence head coach Andrew Grantz. “There hasn’t been one game in the last two years I have seen them when they quit. We kept telling our guys that and we went through a stretch there in the fourth period where we struggled to score and I had to go to our stall offense sooner than I wanted to.”
The 3-pointer is what gave the Pioneers separation in the first half. Juston Betz, Landon Sprigler and Libs all hit one to give Providence an 11-5 lead that was cut to 14-9 at the end of the first period. The Pioneers promptly hit two more, one by Libs and one by Eli Coker, to take a 20-11 lead early in the second. A five-point explosion by Sprigler made it 27-15 and the Pioneers were able to take a 29-18 lead into the locker room at halftime.
“Offensively I was pleased with how we started,” said Grantz. “We’ve been working a lot on the offensive end the last few weeks so we’re slowly getting there and it’s just a matter of time before it clicks.
Slow was the operative word in the second half. Five points by Betz gave Providence its biggest lead of the game at 34-18 early in the third period. But neither team scored in double figures in the period and it was 38-25 heading into the fourth.
Clarksville gave up an inside basket and then the Generals put together an 11-2 run by pounding it inside themselves. Providence was able to maintain possession for most of the last four minutes, and when Benett McEwen’s 3-pointer rolled in and out in the final minute, Betz put it away with two free throws with 31 seconds remaining. Libs finished it off, fittingly, with two more for the final margin.
“Griffin did a fantastic job,” said Grantz. “We always know that he’s going to knock down shots. He’s a very good shooter. He came up with some big rebounds, too, at the end. His length really causes a lot of problems on the defensive end and it’s a big weapon on the offensive end.”
Providence (7-3): Griffin Libs 12, Juston Betz 10, Landon Sprigler 8, Eli Coker 6, Max Leist 4, Alex Judd 4, Sean Morris 2.
Clarksville (2-8): Alex Taylor 15, Christian Stewart 9, Benett McEwen 5, Murphy McEwen 3, Nathan Ludwick 2, Cody Leonhardt 2.
3-point goals: Providence 6 (Libs 2, Betz 2, Sprigler 1, Coker 1); Clarksville 2 (M. McEwen 1, B. McEwen 1).