ELNORA -- Eastern Greene boys basketball coach Andy Igel was watching a double-figure lead slip away from his youthful Thunderbirds as Cloverdale had trimmed an 11-point cushion to four early in the fourth quarter.
Instead of following the normal protocol and try to change the momentum with a time-out, Igel decided to see how his troops would react.
The T-Birds responded with an 8-0 run over the final five minutes and 18 seconds to come away with a 50-38 victory over the Clovers in the second round of the Graber Post Buildings Classic at North Daviess High School Friday afternoon.
"They had cut a 12-point lead to four early in the fourth," said Igel, Igel said of Cloverdale (2-7) using an 10-3 run to trim the deficit from 39-28 to 42-38. "But at some point you have to let these young kids group up.
"I had no idea that we held them scoreless the rest of the way after they got the lead down to two possessions."
Igel, who starts one freshmen, two sophomores, one junior and one senior, would not say it was their best game of the season, but was pleased about never trailing in the final 29 minutes.
"In spurts, it is about as well as we have played," said Igel. "We are playing better, but we are still inconsistent."
Eight different Thunderbirds scored, led by Cody Sparks with 12 points. Sparks made 4 of 6 3-pointers, including three treys in the third quarter.
His back-to-back shots from beyond the arc put Eastern Greene ahead 35-24 at the 2:38 mark of the quarter. The T-Birds took a 39-31 advantage into the fourth period.
"Cody is really feeling it right now," Igel said of the Thunderbirds, who improved to 3-5, matching their win total for all of 2007-08. "If he gets his feet set, he can really stroke the three.
"It feels really good to win. We are so much better than we were last year, even though the record might not reflect it right now."
Zack Johnson had nine points off the bench on 4-for-8 shooting. Davis Russell had eight points, David Gray and Zach Ingram each scored six, Chris Graham had five and Sam Jacob and J.T. Yoho each scored two.
Yoho also had four assists and three steals and Ingram grabbed a team-best seven rebounds in his second varsity start.
Ingram and Graham teamed up to hold 6-9 Link Lovins to two points. Lovins did block five shots and grab four rebounds, but Graham and Ingram combined for 12 points and 10 rebounds.
"Ingram and Graham both followed the game plan to perfection against Lovins," said Igel. "They both did a very good job of defending him. "They both used fakes to get him up in the air and get him into foul trouble, which was big.
"Ingram had a big game for a sophomore. He was playing on the JV last week and now he is starting center on the varsity. My hats off to him," Igel added, referencing the fact that Ingram is starting now for David McNeal, who is academically ineligible the rest of the season.
Eastern Greene made 5 of 11 shots in the fourth quarter, all were lay-ups. Johnson took a defensive rebound and dribbled end-to-end for the first two pointer.
Russell took a nifty bounce back from Yoho for the next hoop. Yoho then dribbled from the top of the key and made a lefty lay-up, Russell then scored after a pass from Sparks and Jacob penetrated off the dribble for an easy two-pointer to close out the victory.
"We were much more aggressive tonight," said Igel. "Against South Knox, we came out very tentative in the first quarter.
"We played so much better tonight. We had an air of confidence. We still have a long way to go, especially defensively. But we are making strides."
Guard Brandon Moon made 4 of 6 treys and led Cloverdale with 16 points. Eric Kukman shot 5-for-7 and tallied 10 points.
The Thunderbirds will play at 4:30 p.m. Saturday for fifth place against the winner of the Washington Catholic--Southwestern (Hanover) game. Cloverdale will play the loser at 3 p.m. Saturday.
"We are trying to inch back toward .500," said Igel.
Graber Post Buildings Classic
At North Daviess
CLOVERDALE (38) -- Jason Salter 1-1 0-0 2, Eric Kukman 5-7 0-0 10, Link Lovins 1-2 0-0 2, Brandon Moon 6-13 0-1 16, Jordan Hayden 1-4 0-0 2, Jacob Clark 1-5 2-2 4, Kevin Dean 1-1 0-0 2, Chuck Strunk 0-0 0-0 0, Dane Grounds 0-0 0-0 0, Jaquan Moore 0-0 0-0 0, Mitch Williams 0-0 0-2 0. Totals 16-33 2-5 38.
EASTERN GREENE (50) -- Cody Sparks 4-9 0-1 12, Zach Ingram 2-8 2-2 6, J.T. Yoho 1-7 0-0 2, David Gray 1-1 4-6 6, Davis Russell 4-9 0-1 8, Sam Jacob 1-1 0-0 2, Chris Graham 2-3 1-2 5, Zack Johnson 4-8 1-2 9, Logan Hash 0-0 0-0 0, Miles Hutchison 0-0 0-0 0, Michael Love 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-46 8-14 50.
Cloverdale 9 8 14 7 -- 38
Eastern Greene 13 9 17 11 -- 50
3-point shooting -- Cloverdale 4-10 (Moon 4-6, Clark 0-2, Hayden 0-2), Eastern Greene 4-12 (Sparks 4-6, Johnson 0-1, Russell 0-2, Yoho 0-3). Fouls -- Cloverdale 11, Eastern Greene 8. Fouled out -- None. Rebounds -- Cloverdale 25 (Dean 7), Eastern Greene 23 (Ingram 7). Assists -- Cloverdale 8 (Moon 2, Lovins 2), Eastern Greene 9 (Yoho 4). Steals -- Cloverdale 2 (Lovins 2), Eastern Greene 8 (Yoho 3).