There was a time when Cloverdale Coach Pat Rady was worried about his team's rebounding.
Friday night that concern was at ease.
Cloverdale hit the boards Friday, outrebounding South Putnam, 34-19, cruising to a 69-55 victory over the Eagles on Homecoming.
"Anytime you're giving a team 16 extra possessions, it's going to be real tough to win," South Putnam Coach Kyle Brewer said.
Cloverdale found the ball coming off the rim in all places -- and to all people. Five-foot, 11-inch point guard Michael Neese led the Clovers with eight rebounds, while 6-foot-1, 155-pound Craig Blair pulled down seven rebounds of his own. Christian Cheatham also grabbed seven rebounds, including five in the first half, helping pace the Clovers throughout the difference in the game.
Along with his team's defensive effort, Rady was pleased to see the solid work on the glass.
'Those are two areas that we've been stressing,' he said. 'I saw some improvement tonight.'
Cloverdale came out taking an early 8-5 lead off six quick points from center Luke Lovins. The lead later stretched to 11-5 off of a Kyle McCammon three-point play, but was cut to four points when Drew Christy hit a jumper on the following play.
The Clovers went into the second quarter with a 14-7 lead.
After Cloverdale's lead got as large as 11 points, South Putnam began a run at the end of the second quarter. Greg Chestnut drained a three-pointer, Christy took a left handed layup to the rack, Marcus McKinney knocked down a free-throw and the Cloverdale lead was cut to 28-23 at halftime.
'I felt like Cloverdale was giving us the lane to get to the rim,' Brewer said. 'Our guards during that stretch were doing a pretty good job of getting to the rim.'
The Eagles were also doing a good job of shutting down Haltom, who coming into the game was averaging nearly 25 points per contest. After the first half, Haltom only had three.
However, in the third quarter, Haltom started getting loose, scoring nine of the 18 Cloverdale points.
South Putnam was answering, feeding Matt Hicks the ball down low. Hicks was battling, getting fouled and connecting on free throws. And the Eagles still only faced a seven point deficit going into the fourth quarter.
'South Putnam is a very good ball club,' Rady said. 'When two very good ball clubs are playing, each team is going to make a run.'
When Hicks made a left-handed hook to start the fourth quarter, the Eagles cut the lead to five points, 46-41.
However, McCammon responded, nailing a three-pointer, followed by Haltom making a turn around for two points. The Clovers led by 10 points with five minutes remaining, and never relinquished the lead for the remainder of the game.
'Kyle does a tremendous job,' Rady said. 'They're well coached. They've got a very good inside game. We knew it was going to be a battle for 32 minutes.'
Haltom led the Clovers with 23 points, while McCammon added 15 points. Along with his game-high eight rebounds, Neese had 11 points and five steals.
For the Eagles, Hicks scored a game-high 26 points, connecting on 11-of-12 free throws, while Christy added 10 points. Zach Rhine and Anthony Tomasino each added seven points.
'I felt like our guys were giving physical effort throughout the whole game,' Brewer said.
The Clovers 11-3 overall and 4-1 in the West Central Conference, while South Putnam falls to 7-8 and 1-4 in the WCC.
The Eagles will get a chance to move to .500 today, as they host Riverton Parke at 7:30 p.m.
'They're playing some of their better basketball now,' Brewer said. 'It's a good opportunity for our kids to rebound from tonight's loss.'
The Clovers play at Owen Valley today at 8 p.m.
'Two good teams played tonight,' Rady said. 'We've played some of our basketball we've played all season.
'I think you have to play with the same intensity you played with tonight,' he added. 'I think you have to play on both ends of the court.'
South Putnam 7 16 16 15 -- 55
Cloverdale 14 14 18 23 -- 69
South Putnam -- Rhine 3-6 0-0 7, Christy 5-10 0-1 10, McKinney 0-1 1-2 1, Anderson 1-4 0-0 3, Tomasino 3-3 1-1 7, Hicks 7-19 11-12 26, Frame 0-0 0-0 0, Hammond 0-0 0-0 0. Totals FG 19-43, FT 13-16, TP 55.
Cloverdale -- Neese 3-8 5-7 11, Blair 1-3 4-4 6, Haltom 7-16 7-7 23, Cheatham 3-5 0-0 6, Trinkle 0-1 1-2 1, McCammon 5-14 3-5 15, Cooper 0-0 2-2 2, Lovins 3-4 0-0 6, Dean 1-1 0-0 2, Faletic 0-0 0-0 0. FG 23-52, FT 22-27, TP 69.
3 pt. -- South Putnam 3 (Hicks 1, Chestnut 1, Rhine 1), Cloverdale 4 (McCammon 2, Haltom 2), Rebounds -- South Putnam 19 (Hicks 7), Cloverdale 34 (Neese 8), Assists -- South Putnam 10 (Christy 3), Cloverdale 9 (Blair 3), Steals -- South Putnam 4 (Rhine 1, Christy 1, McKinney 1, Hicks 1), Cloverdale 8 (Neese 4), Blocks -- South Putnam 0, Cloverdale 4 (Cheatham 2, Lovins 2).
Next game -- Cloverdale plays at Owen Valley today at 8 p.m., while South Putnam hosts Riverton Parke tomorrow at 7:30 p.m.