Just when you caught your breath from the last time these two team met up, here we go again. After battling in the first round of the county tourney, Greencastle and Cloverdale were at it again Friday. The two squads fought to a 63-61 outcome in favor of GHS, leaving both players and fans breathless.
"I told our guys this week that playing them in the county and then coming back and playing them the next week. I was not concerned physically, I was more concerned mentally with how would we approach the game," Greencastle head coach Troy Greenlee said. "Teams that are pretty even like that, the mental edge really means a lot."
The breaking point of the game came with 4:38 to go in the fourth quarter. Cloverdale had maintained its early lead, but a slashing basket and free throw from Greencastle's Jordan Hickam tied the game at 52-all and set the stage for a showdown over the final minutes of the game that had fans going wild.
Down the stretch, both teams scored from outside and on improbable runners and it looked like 32-minutes wouldn't contain the game.
After the Tiger Cubs built a 62-58 lead, Cloverdale guard Brandon Moon connected on a three-pointer from beyond NBA range and gave Cloverdale one last chance for the win. GHS missed the second of two free throws and Cloverdale snagged the rebound and signaled for a timeout. They moved the ball up the court, but Jacob Clark's three attempt was just short. The Tiger Cubs had survived to win 63-61.
"I'm very proud of our team," CHS head coach Pat Rady said. "What they had to go through tonight made me believe that we could be all right for this year's over. They withstood some difficult times and situations tonight.
"I'm proud of our fans. Our student body really came here and backed us, really supported us," he added.
A raucous Cloverdale crowd greet the Clovers when they took the court for the opening tip and spurred them along throughout.
Cloverdale used that emotion to grab a quick lead that they maintained for three-and-a-half quarters. The Clovers jumped out a 6-0 lead and held a three-point advantage after one. Greencastle came alive in the second, but a very productive half from Moon helped the Clovers hold their lead going into the half. They lead 31-28 when the teams entered the locker rooms.
Early in the third, Greencastle found themselves down 10 points, but responded with a run and closed the gap back to three. As the teams entered the fourth something had to give, but what was yet to be determined.
Greenlee thought that the composure his team displayed in the third was key to picking up the win.
"I didn't think we were as sharp, as we needed to be at times tonight, but to our kid's credit, when we got down, we didn't panic and give up. We made some plays when we needed plays and I just thought our kids responded well," Greenlee said.
Cloverdale and Greencastle traded buckets early, but after Hickam's three-play, Greencastle gained an advantage they road until the end.
Despite the loss, Cloverdale showed signs of the team they will become. They didn't give in and continued to fight until the final horn sounded. Rady was pleased with the effort his team brought to the court Friday and believes their future looks bright.
"I'm not going to give up on these guys," he said. "They showed a lot of grit and a lot of determination. We just have to keep plugging and keep getting better and I think we'll be all right by the end of the year.
"I don't believe in moral victories, but tonight came close to it. The kids played their hearts out. I'm just really proud of how they hung in there on some tough situations. I am just proud of our players tonight," Rady added.
For Greenlee it is day-by-day for his Tiger Cubs. They've shown they can accomplish some good things, but he wants them to concentrate on getting better day in and day out. He also likes that some players are maturing and fitting into roles nicely.
"I saw some things tonight that I was hoping to see out of some of our guys," Greenlee commented. "I thought Jordan Hickam made some plays that really made a difference in the game. I though Kyle Harlan really did a great job coming in there and making some tough plays.
"Those are the things you have to have to win games like that. It's going to be different guys different nights and tonight it was those two, plus others, that made the difference," he concluded.
Cloverdale will be on the road Tuesday at Clay City with a 7:30 tipoff, while Greencastle will go against Sullivan tonight at 8 p.m.
Cloverdale 11 20 15 15 -- 61
Greencastle 8 20 15 20 -- 63
Cloverdale -- Moon 22, Clark 12, Lovins 9, Kukman 8, Salter 8, Dean 2. Totals: FG 25-52 FT 5-10 TP 61.
Greencastle -- Hickam 17, Huber 11, Bartrum 4, Marshall 6, Nobles 7, Shuee 3, Harlan 6, Moore 6, Hutcheson 3. Totals: FG 25-52 FT 9-13 TP 63
Next game -- Cloverdale will be on the road Tuesday at Clay City with a 7:30 tipoff, while Greencastle will go against Sullivan tonight at 8 p.m.