As Cloverdale seniors Heather Moon and Hannah Monnett cut down the net after their Putnam County Tournament championship win over North Putnam Friday, their eyes told the whole story.
The tears in their eyes and the smiles on their faces seemed to be saying three words: "We did it."
The Clovers downed North Putnam 51-40 to claim the school's first-ever county championship in girls' basketball.
"i'm just speechless right now," Monnett said after the game. "It's awesome. We won the sectional (in volleyball), and now this. This is definitely something to look back on. Something to remember."
But the Cougars didn't make Cloverdale's special night easy.
At the beginning of the third quarter, North Putnam's Carlye McGuaghey drained a three-pointer to bring the Cougars within two at 33-31.
The Clvoers went on a 7-1 run, though, fueled by three-pointers from Monnett and Chelsie Haltom, who led all scorers with 16 points.
North Putnam managed to cut the deficit to four late in the game, as McGaughey nailed another shot from behind the arc to make it a 43-39 contest, but Cloverdale went on another run, scoring eight of the final nine points in the game to seal the deal.
"It feels good, and it's great for the girls," Cloverdale coach Bruce Cook said. "After the success Chelsie had during cross country and the volleyball team winning the sectional, it just seems like all that success is spilling over for us."
Early in the game, it looked as though the Clovers would run away with the championship.
They jumped out to a 16-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
But North Putnam battled back in the second, outscoring the Clovers 13-11 to head into theh alftime break trailing 27-20.
McGuaghey hit a three-pointer as time expired in the half, and that momentum carried on into the third quarter, which sw Shawna Johnston score six of her team-high 12 points.
"The girls played hard," North Putnam coach kevin Smith said. "(Cloverdale had a nice run in the first and second quarters, and we couldn't quite close the gap on them, and then we had a good run in the third, and we still couldn't close it."
Smith said Friday's loss could only benefit his team.
"I think we grew up a little bit tonight," Smith said. "Each time you go through a game like this, trying to win a close one, it's going to make us better for the next time we face that situation."
Part of the Clovers' success against North Putnam had to do with their defense, particularly when it came to the Cougars' backcourt tandem of Brook Miller and Chelsea Greene.
The North Putnam seniors, who combined to score 31 points in Thursday's semifinal win over South Putnam, were held to just five points.
Greene contributed a single three-pointer, and Miller scored on a lay-up. Together, the two were three-of-nine from the field.
"North played very well, they're well-coached, and they shot the ball well," Cook said. "I think it came down to our defense, though. I thought we did a really good job containing Miller.
"Every team has its leader, and Greene plays well for them, and so does Johnston, but for them it's Miller, and I think Hannah Monnett did a great job on her."
More than the Clovers' defense or any statistic, Cook said that his team's greatest asset Friday night was sheer determination.
"The girls have put in a lot of hard work," Cook said. "I think it all just comes down to the commiment that these kids have. They understand that it takes a lot of hard work.
"I'm thankful these girls get to see this and feel this."
The Clovers (3-2) will be in action again Nov. 28 when they head to Riverton Parke to take on the Panthers for a 7;30 p.m. start. North Putnam (1-4) will be in action at home Nov. 30 when they host Rockville at 7:30 p.m.
At South Putnam
Putnam County Tournament
North Putnam (40) -- Greene 1-3 0-0 3, Miller 1-6 0-0 2, Alles 2-3 0-0 4, Crosby 0-4 0-0 0, Johnson 5-12 2-5 12, Pietras 3-7 3-5 9, McGaughey 4-11 0-0 10. 16-46 FG 5-10 FT 40 TP.
Cloverdale (51) -- Haltom 5-9 4-7 16, Monnett 5-12 0-1 11, McCammon 5-12 1-2 14, Koosman 3-13 2-3 8, Moon 0-8 0-3 0, Schroer 1-2 0-0 2. 19-56 FG 7-16 FT 51 TP.
North Putnam 7 13 8 12 -- 40
Cloverdale 16 11 6 18 -- 51
3-point shooting -- North Putnam 3-13 (Greene 1-2, Miller 0-1, Crosby 0-1, Pietras 0-2, McGaughey 2-7), Cloverdale 6-14 (Haltom 2-2, Monnett 1-5, McCammon 3-4, Moon 0-2, Schroer 0-1). Rebounds -- North Putnam 27, Cloverdale 31. Personal Fouls -- North Putnam 17, Cloverdale 14. Turnovers -- North Putnam 25, Cloverdale 14.
Next Games -- The Clovers (3-2) will be in action again on Nov. 28 when they travel to Riverton Parke for a 7:30 p.m. start. North Putnam (1-4) will take on Rockville at home Nov. 30 at 7:30 p.m.