NEW MARKET -- The Cloverdale High School boys' basketball team overcame a sluggish first quarter after a hard-fought conference win over Cascade Friday night and defeated Southmont 79-60.
The opening stanza was a turnover-plagued affair, as both teams combined for 14 miscues. The Clovers needed all of Michael Neese's seven points to emerge from the first eight minutes with a slim 16-12 lead.
Cloverdale's patented transition game began to emerge in the second quarter, as they put up 26 points and forced the Mounties into foul trouble. Craig Blair scored 10 of his game-high 30 points in a four-minute stretch that saw the Clovers open their first double-digit lead. Southmont had three starters with three fouls and trailed at the break 42-31.
The third quarter was primarily a scoring duel between Blair and Southmont's Tyler Price, as the Clovers and the Mounties essentially traded baskets, and Southmont was forced to sit post player Ben Burkett who drew his fourth foul with 5:04 left.
Nevertheless, the Mounties were able to hang with Cloverdale's up-tempo pace, and actually cut three points off the lead, as they entered the final quarter trailing by just eight, 56-48.
Cloverdale coach Pat Rady praised Southmont's tenacity and ability to cope with the Clovers' frenetic pace.
"Their hustle and effort is a credit to good coaching," Rady said. "(Southmont coach Jay) Croft is doing a nice job with his program."
The Clovers were finally able to break the game open in the fourth quarter, as the leg-weary Mounties were forced to foul in an attempt to secure possessions, enabling Coverdale to get to the line on seven different occasions. Cloverdale led by 20, 73-53, with 2:37 left in the game, and was able to maintain that margin for the remainder of the contest.
Blair led all scorers with 30 points. Price had 22 for the Mounties.
Rady stated at the conclusion of the game that the evening had special significance for him. "It was an honor to coach in this gym (The Robert J. Tandy Memorial Gymnasium). Mr. Tandy was very helpful to me early in my career, and he always did what was best for kids."
In junior varsity action, the Clovers won, 40-36. Brandon Moon paced Cloverdale with 17 ponts.
The Clovers (8-4) will host North Putnam Friday, beginning at 8 p.m.
At New Market
Cloverdale 16 26 14 23 -- 79
Southmont 12 19 17 12 -- 60
Junior Varsity -- Cloverdale won, 40-36
Next Game -- The Clovers (8-4) will face North Putnam Friday.