CLOVERDALE -- the Monday night showdown between the Cloverdale Clovers and Eminence Eels girls basketball squads provided enough drama that it left both stands on their feet salivating for more. The Clovers outlasted Eminence 48-45, to push their record to 5-2 on the season.
The game started rough for the Clovers, as the Eels jumped out to a 9-0 lead, positioning themselves to run away with the game.
"Our offensive effort wasn't really good tonight. We didn't run very well I thought. We just struggled a bit offensively," CHS head coach Bruce Cook said.
Fundamentals brought the Clovers to life as they began to chip away at the Eminence lead at the foul line. Ashley Koosman and Elizabeth Cheatham hit five straight free throws to get the Clovers rolling. Cloverdale went on a 9-2 run to close the first quarter to seize its first lead of the game at 12-11. Cheatham exhibited her dominance inside with five second left in the quarter as she blasted an Eminence sideline shot out of bounds to preserve the lead.
Sinclair was honored at halftime for eclipsing the 1,000 point mark during her career. The junior collected her 1,000th point in the first half of her 49th game in her career.
The Clovers never seemed comfortable with what they were trying to do throughout the night and slugged it out with the Eels all evening. Eminence outscored Cloverdale 10-6 in the third quarter to knot the game at 33-all going into the fourth quarter.
Cook watched as his squad took the court and displayed the character that any successful team must possess.
The Eels built a five-point lead with five minutes to go but the Clovers refused to lose. Digging in, they tied the game at 41-all with 3:22 remaining. Koosman struggled throughout the game but kept the Clovers in it with a quick spinning lay up with 1:43 left in the quarter.
Cheatham, who scored 18 points in the game, put Cloverdale in front for good with 25 seconds remaining, as she connected on two free throws. Koosman hit a free throw with seven seconds remaining to seal the deal.
"She (Cheatham) really makes it tough inside. I thought she played really well tonight," Cook said.
Cook acknowledged the fact that Eminence is always a tough opponent for the Clovers even after facing them during the summer months. Talking of is team's struggles, Cook recognized his team's love for the outside shot and the fact that those shots can make or break a team.
"We went down 9-0 to start the game and when you looked at them (Cloverdale) you didn't see panic," Cook commented. "I felt like we did a nice job in the first half of taking the ball to them. We settled for some outside shots but our team has a tendency to do that. When you have a shooter like Kristin McCammon you do settle for that sometimes.
"It's so much fun when you're hitting it but when you're missing them -- man, all of a sudden you are struggling." Cook observed.
With the offense sputtering, Cook was impressed by his team's defensive effort against two tall and offensively explosive opponents in Sinclair and Jacci Martin.
The Clovers are back in action this Friday, when they host Greencastle at 6 p.m.
Eminence 11 12 10 12 -- 45
Cloverdale 12 15 6 15 -- 48
Eminence -- Sinclair 25, Martin 14, Greene 4, Merrick 2.
Cloverdale -- Cheatham 18, Koosman 12, McCammon 10, Franklin 4, Haltom 4.
Next game -- The Clovers are back in action this Friday, when they host Greencastle at 6 p.m.