CLOVERDALE -- For 16 minutes Friday night it was difficult to tell the difference between the No. 5-ranked team in Class A high school basketball and the one having a tough year. The difference became apparent in the second half.
The Cloverdale Clovers stayed with the now 17-2 Rockville Rox through the opening half, but couldn't maintain that level of play through the third and fourth quarters, falling 67-51.
"We've had such a tough year, and for us to come out and play that kind of basketball against a very good Rockville team, I was very proud. We just got to keep working, keep focusing and we got to get 32 minutes of basketball because that's what it takes to be a good team, and Rockville is a very good team," Cloverdale coach Pat Rady said.
Craig Blair, who was honored prior to the game for scoring his 1,000th career point in the Jan. 20 game at South Putnam, led Cloverdale with 15 points and seven rebounds. Brandon Moon drained four three-point buckets in a 12-point effort.
"(Blair) is a real problem. He's a good player," Rockville coach Dave Mahurin said.
"I was really disappointed with our mental focus coming in because we weren't going to lose (Blair) and we weren't going to lose Brandon Moon, and on two out-of-bounds plays they both hit threes."
Rockville was led by 6-8 forward R.J. Mahurin with 22 points and seven rebounds and 6-4 guard Matt King with 18 points and nine rebounds. Rockville's 6-5 center Aaron Bridge had a double-double of 11 points and 13 rebounds.
Led by Blair and the rebounding of Ryan Dean, Cloverdale set a full-court tempo in the opening quarter. Cloverdale took a 6-2 lead on a bucket by Raine Young less than two minutes into the game. A three by Blair kept the Clovers in a 9-4 led.
Led by Mahurin, Rockville outscored Cloverdale 12-7 over the final five minutes of the period and the score was knotted 16-16 going into the second quarter.
Rockville took a 27-21 lead on a three by Bridge with 4:12 left in the first half. But the Clovers responded, as Moon buried a three, found Ryan Dean open for two, then knocked down another trey to put Cloverdale on top 29-27.
Rockville led 33-31 at halftime.
"I thought we were a little lethargic (the first half). I thought Cloverdale was very well prepared and they played a very good first half against us," Rockville coach Dave Mahurin said.
"The third quarter we made some changes in personnel and went to a match-up [zone] and it really changed the complexion of the game."
Rockville came out in a match-up zone defense and Cloverdale hit just 2-of-12 shots from the floor against it. The Clovers shot 33 percent (20-61) for the game.
"We got shots. We had a hand in our face. Against a good team you got to hit those shots. We got the open shots, they didn't fall," Rady said.
At the other end, Rockville took advantage of Mahurin's size inside early, then King hit back-to-back three that gave Rockville a 50-36 going into the fourth period.
"Our post defense, we got to work on that. Our post defense went south especially in the second half," Rady said.
Rockville increased the lead to 64-41 midway through the final period.
Cloverdale returns to action on Wednesday night at home against Class 3A No. 2-ranked Edgewood.
Rockville (67) -- Mahurin 8-19 6-9 22, Bridge 5-13 0-0 11, Taylor 5-6 0-0 10, Harper 1-2 0-0 2, King 6-11 4-7 18, Reed 0-1 0-0 0, McMullen 1-2 0-0 2, Kelley 0-1 0-0 0, Burks 0-0 0-0 0, Parsons 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-54, 12-18 FT, 67 TP.
Cloverdale (51) -- Blair 6-24 1-4 15, R. Dean 2-6 0-1 4, Randall 1-1 0-0 3, Young 2-6 0-0 4, Moone 4-9 0-0 12, Salter 1-4 0-0 2, Hayden 1-5 0-0 2, Kukman 2-3 2-2 7, K. Dean 1-2 0-0 2, Glassburn 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-61 FG, 3-7 FT, 51 TP.
Rockville 16 17 17 17 -- 67
Cloverdale 16 15 5 15 -- 51
3-Pt. Goals: Rockville 3-12 (King 2-5, Bridge 1-1, Mahurin 0-5, McMullen 0-1), Cloverdale 8-19 (Moon 4-8, Blair 2-4, Randall 1-1, Kukman 1-1, Salter 0-2, Hayden 0-3). Total fouls: R 13, C 13. Fouled out: None. Turnovers: R 13, C 11. Rebounds: R 42 (Bridge 13), C 31 (R. Dean 8, Blair 7).
JV game: Rockville won 43-38.
Next game -- Rockville (17-2) plays at Terre Haute South tonight. Cloverdale (7-12) will host Edgewood on Wednesday.