BOGATA — The class AA, 12th ranked Clarksville Blue Tigers kept their hopes alive for another district championship by defeating host Rivercrest Rebels 76-58 in a second round league opening game played on the Rebels home floor Tuesday night. With the victory, the Tigers now hold a 6-1 district record. Rivercrest is 4-3 in district competition.
The victory didn’t turn out to be as easy as the score appears to indicate. Clarksville did jump out of the gate fast, racing to a 17-4 advantage when point guard Quay Scales scored on a coast to coast lay-up with 3:08 remaining in the opening quarter. The Tigers would end the quarter leading 22-10. With Clarksville appearing to be in control of the game, Tigers head coach Willie Coulter moved several starters to the bench, and suddenly the Rebels were a team on a mission.
“I think the change in the first half came when we made the substitutions, and I don’t think we scored any points at that point. And if you don’t score points, and your defense gets shabby, they get a run on us,” Coulter said.
The Rebels shut the Tigers down defensively in the second period, limiting the Blue Tigers to just eight total points. Meanwhile, Shane Crabtree had three of his four 3-pointers in the first half, while Zach Lane scored 10 of his team-leading 21 points in the game during the first two quarters, and Kamryn English added seven first half points off the bench.
Jalen Scott had the hot hand for the Tigers as he scored 11 first half points, including being able to nail three of his game high six 3-pointers. He also led all scorers in the game with 28 points. Scales added 10 of the 16 points that he scored in the game during the opening half.
The Rebels took advantage of Clarksville mistakes in the second frame while making some impressive shots from the field to chip away at the Tigers lead. Rivercrest scored 21 points in the period, and Crabtree’s 3-pointer with 1:47 remaining in the first half drew the Rebels to within 30-28. Lane’s trey at the 1-minute mark gave Rivercrest a 31-30 lead, a shocking advantage that Coach Quincy English’s team enjoyed at the intermission.
Back to back 3-point field goals from Crabtree and Bradyn English lifted the home team to a 37-30 lead with 5:52 remaining in period three. But then Clarksville took over. Scott drilled in a 3-pointer, then added a bucket off the break. With 4:54 remaining in the third quarter, Tra’Derrian Rose scored off the break deadlocking the game at 37-all. Neo Scales gave the Blue Tigers the lead for good at the 4:20 mark, with a put back as the Tigers led 39-37. Clarksville finished out the frame by outscoring Rivercrest 15-2, then moved into the final period in command 54-39.
With 3:13 remaining in the game Rose, who was a key weapon down low with his rebounding and scoring, scored on a drive, while being fouled. His bucket extended the Tigers lead to 68-47. Rose scored 17 points in the game. Clarksville enjoyed 21-point advantages twice more down the stretch before walking away with the 18-point win.
“So we just had to come back. You’ve got to play like you’re a senior with some experience. You’ve got to do that, and when you don’t do that, you get upset,” Coulter said. “You just have to turn up the defense, and play like an experienced team.”
The teams combined for 18 3-point field goals in the contest, with Clarksville bombing in 10 and the Rebels making eight strikes from long range distance.
Crabtree contributed 12 points for the Rebels while Kamryn English added 10 points. Clarksville will enjoy a bye Friday before resuming play next Tuesday by hosting the Linden-Kildare Tigers.