In a rematch of the Putnam County Championship game, the Cloverdale girls' basketball team played the South Putnam Eagles much tougher on their home floor.
However, with South Putnam getting to the free-throw line 35 times, connecting on 25 attempts, the Clovers came short of redemption Friday. Paced by Meghan Canary scoring 21 points, the Eagles defeated Cloverdale, 48-44.
"Free throws killed us," Cloverdale Coach Bruce Cook said. "The second half we put them on the free throw line 26 times. That really hurts us."
Canary connected on 14-of-18 free throws in the second half alone, leading the Eagles in scoring, while Jessica Canary added 15 points on 7-of-9 free throws in the game.
Both of the Eagles were clutch in the end, as Cloverdale mounted a comeback in the late stages of the game, putting the sisters on the free throw line.
South Putnam started the game strong, taking an early 13-3 lead off a Jessica Canary jump shot with 3:38 remaining in the quarter. Cloverdale responded by going on a 6-0 run, cutting the lead to four points. The score was 15-11 at the end of the first.
'The first quarter we played really, really well,' Steffy said. 'Cloverdale called a timeout when the score was 13-3. The composure and the momentum of the game changed.'
Cloverdale continued to roll in the second quarter, outscoring the Eagles 12-7. The Clovers took their first lead when Ashley Koosman drained a three-pointer from Hannah Monnett, making the score 19-18.
The Clovers took a 23-22 lead into halftime.
'In the second quarter, I thought they outplayed us by leaps and bounds,' Steffy said.
The third quarter, however, was a different story.
South Putnam shut down the Cloverdale offense, outscoring the Clovers, 11-5. Cloverdale didn't score until Koosman hit a free-throw with 1:12 remaining in the period.
Taking a 33-28 lead into the third quarter, the Eagles never looked back.
'I thought the third quarter was a real good quarter for us,' Steffy said. 'I thought was probably the difference in the game.'
Cloverdale made a spirited run toward the end of the fourth quarter as Monnett caught fire, scoring 12 of her team-high 14 points.
With just under a minute remaining, Monnett kept the Cloverdale hopes alive, hitting a three-pointer, making the score 43-49. After two Megan Canary free throws, she answered again by nailing another three-pointer with just 37.3 seconds remaining.
After two Jessica Canary free throws, just 16 seconds later, Monnett stole an inbound pass and was fouled on another three-point attempt, connecting on two of three free-throws, making the score 47-44.
However, despite Monnett's efforts, with just 20 seconds remaining, Cloverdale could not get any closer.
'She's our go to player,' Cook said of Monnett. 'She's the player of the team.
'I think that she gets to move in some really big shoes next year,' he added. 'I think that next year she's the best player in the county.'
Chelsie Haltom added 10 points and three assists for Cloverdale, while Koosman had 10 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
Dara Booe led the Eagles in rebounding with nine, while Bailey Birt added six points in the Eagles effort. Along with the Canary sisters, Birt was also key to making free-throws in the second half, connecting on 4-of-6.
South Putnam improves to 4-1 in the West Central Conference and 12-5 overall, while Cloverdale falls to 0-5 in the WCC and 7-11 overall.
The Clovers host Shakamak Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., followed by playing Friday at Speedway.
'Both of those games will be important for us to win, going into the sectional,' Cook said. 'I think we have a little bit of confidence. I think we're starting to realize that we can play a little bit.'
South Putnam hosts Clay City Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
'They've got some kids that can shoot the three from outside, but they're also good dribble penetrates,' Steffy said. 'So tonight was a good practice for us against that.'
South Putnam 15 7 11 15 -- 48
Cloverdale 11 12 5 16 -- 44
South Putnam -- Robinson 0 1-2 1, M. Canary 3 14-18 21, J. Canary 5 7-9 15, Stanifer 0 0-0 0, Birt 1 4-6 6, Boetjer 0 0-0 0, Booe 1 0-0 2, Searles 1 0-0 2, Mink 0 1-2 1. FG 10, FT 25-35, TP 48.
Cloverdale -- Haltom 2 5-7 10, Monnett 4 4-5 14, Koosman 2 5-7 10, Puffer 2 1-2 6, Moon 0 0-0 0, Schroer 0 2-2 2, Arnold 1 0-1 2. Totals FG 11, FT 16-27, TP 44.
3 pt. -- South Putnam 2 (M. Canary 1, J. Canary 1), Cloverdale 5 (Monnett 2), Rebounds -- South Putnam 27 (Booe 9), Cloverdale 28 (Koosman 10), Assists -- South Putnam 4 (M. Canary 2), Cloverdale 6 (Haltom 3), Steals -- South Putnam 5 (M. Canary 3), Cloverdale 5 (Monnett 2).
Next game -- South Putnam hosts Shakamak Tuesday at 7 p.m., while Cloverdale hosts Shakamak Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.