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CLOVERDALE -- "This was a super night for Cloverdale basketball," stated Coach Pat Rady after the Clover boys defeated Speedway Friday night, 80-79.
In a game delayed nearly an hour because of the historic double-overtime victory by the Lady Clovers, who wrapped up their first-ever conference championship, Cloverdale was able to overcome a tremendous effort by Speedway's Tyler Dial to take their own piece of the WCC crown.
The first half was a see-saw affair, as the Clovers and the Sparkplugs traded the lead often. Dial connected on 5-of-6 three-pointers in the half, however Michael Neese countered by contributing 13 of his 22 points in the opening 16 minutes to help Cloverdale take a slim 35-31 lead at the intermission.
At the six-minute mark of the third quarter, the Clovers were able to up the margin to 46-37 on a Neese three pointer, but the Sparkplugs answered with a 12-2 run that gave them a 48-47 lead with three minutes left. Speedway was able to maintain the lead as the third quarter expired, 61-59.
Cloverdale turned to its post game in the final stanza, as Christian Cheatham scored 12 points, and a defensive adjustment enabled the Clovers to limit Dial's touches. After a Sparkplug turnover with two minutes left, Craig Blair converted on a transition lay-up to give the Clovers a 77-75 lead.
Blair converted on the front end of a double bonus opportunity to put Cloverdale up one, 78-77, with 47 ticks left, but Speedway's Mark Dunbar answered 18 seconds later to give the Sparkplugs the lead, 79-78.
On the Clover's final possession, Neese hit a running jumper in the lane with 0:08 left, giving Cloverdale its margin of victory, 80-79.
Speedway had a final shot, but Dial's desperation jumper as the horn sounded fell short, and the Clovers were co-WCC champions.
"This was as fine a team win as I've been involved with here," stated Rady. "Our fans and our kids were just outstanding tonight. I can't say enough about them."
Dial led all scorers with 26 points. Neese and Cheatham led Cloverdale with 22 points each.
Speedway 11 20 30 18 -- 79
Cloverdale 15 20 24 21 -- 80
Next Game -- The Clovers face South Vermillion at home Thursday.