The Clarksville Academy Cougars dominated all four quarters against the Mt. Juliet Christian Academy Saints and came away with an impressive 57-16 victory to show for their efforts.
CA came into the night with a 9-9 record (6-4 in district play). Seven of their games this season have been decided by one possession, with nine being decided by five or less. Friday’s matchup against the Saints was anything but close.
The Saints broke the ice with a quick layup by Max Beaty, but the rest of the quarter belonged solely to the Cougars. CA went on to score 17 unanswered points in the quarter and take a 17-2 lead after the first eight minutes of play.
The Cougars continued to let the points pour in, even with head coach Tyler Hickman calling on his bench unit early. At the half, CA led MJCA 39-6 and held the Saints to just two made baskets in the quarter. Over the final 16 minutes, the Cougars outscored the Saints 18-6 to come away with the 41-point victory.
One of the biggest stories for the Cougars in the game was the return of Eddie Ricks, who had been sidelined with a foot injury. Ricks scored eight in the game, but Hickman says the sophomore plays a bigger impact on the court than what a box score depicts.
“[Having Ricks back is] big for us,” Hickman said. “Our guys play with confidence. That is probably the biggest thing, playing with confidence and understanding that [Eddie Ricks] settles us down and swallows up a lot on the defensive end. For us it is big to have him back, his confidence and those kinds of things are big for us.
“We are glad to have him back and keep moving forward. We felt like we were playing some of our best basketball right before his injury which is unfortunate but that’s just the nature of it. We just keep growing and building.”
It is always a coach’s goal to be able to sub in players that typically do not get much playing time. Hickman was able to do this Friday and says that he was impressed by what he saw from his bench unit, specifically Gabe Suiter, Patton Samuels and Corn Stevens.
“Gabe Suiter had a good game for us,” Hickman said. “He played hard and that is one thing he does well. Patton Samuels is another kid and Corn Stevens, three kids that hadn’t been normal guys that we need to step up, that got some valuable minutes tonight. We share the ball well so for us it is about the defensive end and that was our emphasis tonight. We gave up 16 points and that is good for us.”
With the win, CA reaches double-digits in the win column. With five games still left before postseason action begins, the Cougars look to head into the playoffs with momentum. In order to do that, Hickman says that his young team needs to continue to grow up and play well in the second half.
“We have to keep growing up,” Hickman said. “We have been a really good first-half team and we have been a pretty poor third quarter team and then we kind of grinded out some wins and also lost a couple tight ones for us. We have to value every possession and that is what we are trying to do on both ends of the floor. That’s where we have to grow. . . We are mainly sophomores, so you see some of that creep in here and there, but we have to be better in that area if we want to make a run.”
Up next, the Cougars will host University School of Nashville. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 19. For the Saints, they will travel to Madison, Tenn. to take on the Goodpasture Christian Cougars. Tip-off for that game is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Jan. 18.
Clarksville Academy (57): Jac Wyatt 13, Eddie Ricks 8, Corn Stevens 8, Paris Pridgen 6, Keith Richburg 6, Patton Samuels 5, DJ Merriweather 4, Tyler Moss 4, Gabe Suiter 3.
Mt. Juliet Christian (16): Derrick Crouch 8, Max Beaty 4, Justin Matthews 2.