CLARKSVILLE — Two game-opening dunks by Kenwood’s Jimario Rivers could have put Wilson Central in awe.
But instead, the tenacious Wildcats hit the Knights in the proverbial mouth and put them in shock with a 50-37 victory in the Region 5-AAA championship game Thursday night at Rossview.
Rivers’ jams and layup staked the hometown favorites to a 6-0 lead.
“I called timeout and said ‘this isn’t what we came to do’,” Wildcats coach Troy Bond said. “We had to be more physical and add a step up to the fight.
“We matched the intensity and then took it to a different level. Defensively, we played great.”
The Wildcats held their composure and turned up the tenacity, putting together a 14-0 run which put the visitors ahead 15-8 early in the second quarter. Central led 28-13 at halftime as Jacob Williams scored 14 of his 24 points in the first half, 11 in the second period.
Kenwood whittled at the deficit in the second half, closing to within 31-27 late in the third quarter.
But backup point guard Deante Miller drover for a pair of layups, including a coast-to-coast job off his steal, for a 35-27 cushion early in the fourth.
After Kenwood closed the margin back to 35-30 and the hometown fans whooping and hollering, Ben Palmer drove the lane for a layup, Williams got hot with a bank shot and Palmer put in a free throw to hush the Clarksvillians. Williams found his range again in the fourth with 10 points as the Wildcats claimed their third region crown, and first since the second of back-to-backs in 2005.
Central will bring a 25-6 mark into Monday’s 7 p.m. sectional against Hunters Lane, which fell to 22-10 with a 65-31 loss to Brentwood in the Region 6 final. Kenwood will carry a 26-7 mark to Brentwood [30-2].
Palmer put in eight points for Central while Miller and Jon Rosshirt each scored six, A.J. Franklin four and Matthew Hall two.
Rivers added another dunk in the third quarter and led Kenwood with 15 points while Eastern Kentucky-signee Daniel Norl was held to 10 as the Knights’ three-point attack never materialized much.
“There were times it seemed like we had two or three guarding a guy,” Bond said. “We were going everywhere.
“Great job by our bench –A.J. Franklin, Deante Miller [four steals] and Preston Reed. Our seniors played great – Jon Rosshirt [who finished with four assists], Jacob Williams [who led with eight rebounds], Matthew Hall, Ben Palmer, Casey Brandon. It was a great win. Our kids deserved it. They played their [rear ends] off all year and it was just fun.”