"This was a pressure game and I think you suspect that in this tournament. South Putnam's play did not surprise me at all," CHS Coach Pat Rady said. "Micah does a great job on coaching his team. They play a good defense and had a patient offense and played smart basketball and I think the Clovers did the same thing tonight.
"We had good patientce in our offense and we had some good defense too. It was just two good county rivals playing each other tonight," Rady added.
Cloverdale trailed the entire first half and was able to cut the Eagles' lead to one, 17-16 when Jordan Hayden sunk two freebies from the charity stripe, then turned around, stole the ball and hit a long three before the half expired.
Then it took the Clovers the first five minutes of the third quarter to get in front. First Jacob Clark nailed a three at the top of the key, knotting the score at 24. Then Hayden came back down and drained another three for a 27-24 lead.
Cloverdale never trailed again.
"You never know and you can give reason for anything, and if I did I would sell a book a be a millionaire because I have been at this for a few years. But I think a lot of times ,this is the first time that some of these kids are in the sectional and they are going to be nervous and cold," Rady said about his team's slow start. "And I told my son in the beginning that we have to work them through that.
"At the half, I told the team that the jitters are over with and, we are within one, so let's go out there and play Clover basketball in the second half , and I thought we did," Rady said.
The final nail in the Eagles' coffin in the fourth quarter was the Clovers' foul shooting. They went 8-for-8 in the fourth quarter, ensuring themselves a win.
"You just have to give their kids credit. They stepped up and hit the shot when they needed," SPHS Coach Micah Elliott said. "And when you get more stops than the other team, you are going to win and we just didn't get enough stops.
"We played well. We gave ourselves a chance and it didn't go that way tonight," Elliot said. "Give Coach Rady all the credit in the world. He coached a great game.
The Eagles shot 42 percent from the floor in the second half going 8-for-19, but only shot 28 percent from downtown.
One thing is for sure, Rady is glad the first game is over for his Cloverdale team.
"When you get into the tournament the first night, is always the jittery night and you have to get that night out of the way and get the butterflies out of your stomach and be ready to play your best," Rady said.
At South Putnam Sectionals
Cloverdale (9-13, 3-3 WCC)
Moon 2-6 4-4 6, Clark 3-9 2-2 10, Strunk 0-0 0-0 0, Kukman 4-9 2-2 10, Hayden 4-9 2-2 13, Dean 1-4 2-2 4, Salter 0-1 0-0 0, Lovins 1-3 1-2 3. Totals 15-41 FG, 13-14 FT, 46 TP.
South Putnam (6-15, 0-6 WCC)
Nelson 1-2 0-3 2, Zimmerman 3-6 2-2 8, Cash 0-3 3-3 3, Freeman 0-0 0-0 0, Varvel 0-0 0-0 0, Frame 4-4 2-2 10, Welty 4-10 0-0 11, Dean 0-0 0-0 0, Boswell 1-3 0-1 2, Vickrey 2-5 0-1 4, Masters 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-33 FG, 7-12 FT, 40 TP.
3-pt. FG - C 5-21 (Moon 0-4, Clark 2-5, Kukman 0-2, Hayden 3-8, Dean 0-1, Salter 0-1), SP 3-11 (Zimmerman 0-2, Cash 0-1, Welty 3-8). Rebounds - C 17 (Clark 4, Kukman 3, Hayden 3, Dean 4, Lovins 3), SP 20 (Nelson 2, Zimmerman 1, Cash 2, Welty 3, Dean 1, Boswell 7, Vickrey 2, Masters 2). Blocks -- C 3 (Lovins 3), SP 0. Assists -- C 9 (Moon 4, Clark 2, Strunk 1, Kukman 1, Hayden 1), SP 6 (Nelson 1, Zimmerman 1, Frame 3, Masters 1). Steals -- C 9 (Clark 2, Hayden 3, Dean 3, Salter 1), SP 7 (Nelson 1, Zimmerman 1, Cash 1, Frame 1, Welty 2, Vickrey 1). Total fouls -- C 16, SP 19. Fouled out -- Nelson. Turnovers - C 16, SP 24.
Next game -- The Clovers (9-13, 3-3 WCC) play Covenant Christian in the first game of the semi-final round of the Class 2A, Sectional 46 at South Putnam Friday night. The game will begin at 6:00.