Posted On: 03/18/21 10:06 PM
Houston entered Murfreesboro’s Murphy Center the favorites. With post defense and free throw shooting they advanced to the TSSAA Class AAA State Tournament semifinals, winning 70-58 late Thursday evening.
Clarksville Knows No Fear
Down 10, JJ Wheat hit a challenged three-pointer. His confidence and competence unveiled a microcosm of the entire March run of Clarksville. The Wildcats faced adversity and wonderful opponents all month. Look at the caliber of teams that CHS knocked off in succession to get to this moment: Henry County, Green Hill, Clarksville Northeast, Beech, Franklin.
How do they do it? The Clarksville team is quicker than quick. Their legs are pumping and the feet are peppering the deck constantly. That pitter-patter is the soundtrack of the Clarksville success story.
Countless times Clarksville looked to be done and buried. Over and over the white-clad Wildcats clawed back. Credit Javon Martin, the owner of six rebounds despite standing approximately 5-goot-8. Martin played unbelievably scrappy and intensely.
Beyond Martin, Clarksville found courage from Charles Freemnan. Vastly undersized Freeman cleverly figured out little seams and pockets through which to shoot. Though his effectiveness tapered off, presumably through fatigue, Freeman did hit a three-pointer and draw out the Houston big Jerrell Colbert Jerrell Colbert 6'10" | C Houston | 2021 State #56 Nation TN defensively. Freeman was often the only offensive rebounder and only player getting attempts in the lane of any kind. The Length of Houston The Mustangs of Houston tried to pressure fullcourt. They tried to trap. Neither were very successful despite the extremely long arms blocking passing lanes. The place where the height of Houston High did cause significant problems was in the halfcourt. Clarksville’s guards, J.J. Wheat J.J. Wheat 5'11" | PG Clarksville | 2022 State TN , Jaheim McDonald Jaheim McDonald 6'2" | PG Clarksville | 2021 State TN , etc. managed to get into the danger spots, but clearly had no eyes to the rim. How could they? The shots, if floaters or lofted layups, were most likely to be blocked by elbows. Houston featured a frontline of 6-foot-6+ at three positions. Defending the length is another frustration altogether. Johnathan Lawson Johnathan Lawson 6'8" | SF Houston | 2021 State #112 Nation TN , the number one player in Tennessee, gets to the rim quite smoothly. His speed is surprising at his height, and yet he gets to the places he wants. More than once he forced a foul because he simply outstrode his defender. Lawson’s success at the free throw line starts before the whistle even blows. The threat of him finishing easily forces the foul and the stroll to the stripe. The Skill of HHS Zander Yates Zander Yates 6'8" | SF Houston | 2021 State TN played marvelously as an inverted forward. Yates buried back-to-back three-pointers in the first half. T.J. Madlock carved up the defense and knifed his way into the lane with strong, assured dribbling. Johnathan Lawson Johnathan Lawson 6'8" | SF Houston | 2021 State #112 Nation TN is another tier above the skilled Houston players when it comes to pure skill. "Everyone is going to have a match-up problem with him," said Clarksville Head Coach Ted Young. Lawson handled like a 6-foot-2 guard with the arms of an NBA power forward. He shot with the feathery soft touch regardless of where he was on the floor. The hands and arms were extremely quick and Lawson frequently earned deflections with a quick mind and a quick reaction. "He is pretty good," said Houston High School Head Coach Mike Miller with a wry smile. Johnathan Lawson Johnathan Lawson 6'8" | SF Houston | 2021 State #112 Nation TN is now 7-0 in the Murphy Center.