Junior Sam Specht scored a game-high 24 points Friday night to lead Pope John Paul II visiting Clarksville Northwest 67-50.
JPII (10-3) led wire-to-wire against their non-district foe, racing out to as many as 12 points in the first half.
The third quarter was much of the same for the Knights as their lead ballooned to as many as 22 points before Northwest made the game interesting.
Leading 51-29 at the end of 24 minutes, Northwest started the fourth quarter on a 12-0 run cutting the JPII lead to 10 with just under six minutes remaining.
“I don’t think we were playing with the same intensity or being smart with the basketball,” said JPII coach Charles Wade. “Give them the credit they made a couple of great plays but credit our guys for doing a good job of pushing the lead back out. Taggert (Patterson) and Sam really shot the ball well tonight. That was a good win for us.”
Following a timeout, Elijah Hollins hit a layup then Specht drained one of his four 3-pointers in the game to push the lead back out to 15.
JPII capped off their own 10-0 run following the timeout with two Michael Martini free throws.
After pushing their lead back out to 20, both teams traded baskets the final four minutes of the game.
“It’s tough to come back when you’re down that much,” said Northwest coach Aaron Wallace said. “We didn’t show up in the first half, then we are playing catchup against a team that when you apply pressure to they don’t panic. We made a run but credit them for shooting the ball really well.”
The Knights 15 turnovers while committing just eight of their own.
“We were careless with the basketball tonight,” Wallace said. “That will kill you in games and it did against their length tonight.”
The Knights also dominated the paint, outscoring the Vikings 36-22 at the rim.
“I thought Michael (Martini) did a great job of putting the ball on the floor and attacking,” Wade said. “Sabino (Otira) always does a great job, and I was proud of Sam for attacking as well. I think Sam is getting more confident in his ability to attack and that is huge for us.”
To the Vikings credit, they could have easily conceded down by 22 to start the fourth quarter, but to the Vikings credit they did not do that.
“I liked the fight we showed tonight,” Wallace said. “We changed things up on the fly in the fourth quarter and our guys did a good job of executing. Tonight we just couldn’t get shots to fall. They packed it in on us not allowing us to the rim, but if we show up in the first half it’s a different ball game.”
Pope John Paul II (67): Sam Specht 24, Michael Martini 10, Taggert Patterson 9, Killon Williams 6, Elijah Hollins 6, Sabino Otira 6, Connor Tuerff 2, Jay Wright 2, Judson Murray 2.
Northwest (50): Ametri Moss 20, Joshua Youngblood 13, Jamal Mull 7, Amonte Briscoe 5, NaQuan Braitheuaite 3.