“The whole city was down on us,” said Clarksville Wildcats guard JJ Wheat.
“We were (going to) lose, we weren’t ready for them because their key player Isaiah (Farrior) is back. To prove them wrong, that felt good.”
Last year’s District 10-AAA champion Northeast Eagles went into Clarksville High School’s gym and lost 58-57 to the current district leaders, but it was not that close the entire game. Not by a long shot.
In fact, it wasn’t even that close going into the fourth quarter. After Wildcat guard Wesley Booth hit a deep buzzer beating three, Clarksville led the Eagles 47-33 going into the final eight minutes and was outplaying its opponent in every facet. Wheat already had 17 of his game-high 21 points, and the Wildcats seemingly couldn’t miss.
Cue the comeback attempt. The Eagles scored 24 fourth-quarter points –- the same amount they scored in the second and third quarters combined – getting buckets from six different players. Unfortunately for Northeast, Marcus Averhart’s made three-pointer at the buzzer was unceremonious. Clarksville, up four, knew not to foul and to just allow the clock to run itself out.
And that’s how Wheat and the Wildcats overcame the expectations the city had for them and overcame their toughest district foe yet.
“That was the Northeast team we knew we were going to play the entire game,” said Clarksville coach Ted Young. “The difference is we didn’t allow them to create turnovers for us the first three-and-a-half quarters. The first half, we shot extremely well. When we shoot that well, we can be a difficult team to play against.”
Wheat and co-star Jamarco Mimms combined for 36 of their team’s 58 points, with the other 22 spread out across five players in a nine-man rotation.
“Not being selfish is a big key because...our chemistry got a whole lot better from last year,” Wheat said. “Just keep moving the ball, try and find the open man. Team scoring is our thing.”
As far as the Eagles and coach Samuel Young go, they hoped for a more consistent showing instead of leaving all the work for the final quarter.
The good news, though, is that there’s plenty of season left.
“It’s January,” Young said. “No championships (were) won tonight. We just got to keep plugging at it, get back to work.”
Clarksville (58): JJ Wheat 21, Jamarco Mimms 15, Jaheim McDonald 7, Nick Keener 7, Jaheim Berry 3, Wesley Booth 3, Joseph Schreiber-Rivera 2.
Northeast (57): Marcus Averhart 11, Jalen Hooks 10, Jaylen Bussey 9, Ty Jackson 8, Isaiah Farrior 7, Jaylen Miller 4, Josh Alexander 4, Marcus Williams 2, Tomario Vereen 2.