It's the one group of players every coach looks towards to lead his team to the promise land, to hit the clutch shot at the buzzer, to step up and defend the opponent's all-star player. For Cloverdale it was seniors who won the 2009 Putnam County Classic Saturday night at McAnally.
Cloverdale defeated Greencastle 61-55 and claimed its first county championship in five years.Out of its 61 points, 38 of them came from its senior core. Brandon Moon led the squad with 17 points, followed Jacob Clark, Jason Salter and Jaquan Moore who all had eight points each, Kevin Dean wasn't far behind with five points.
"We had some good senior leadership tonight," CHS coach Pat Rady said. "I'd like to talk individuals, but I'm not one that does talk individuals because this is a team sport, but we had some individuals within the team that sure did make the fit.
"This was a very intense game and Greencastle is very fine ball club. This was probably the best ball that we have played in the last three years, ever since the team that won the sectional," Rady added.
The moment that changed the game for the Clovers was the second quarter. They outscored Greencastle 16-9 and held it's most dominant post player, Nick Hutcheson, to only four points.
"I don't know why and I told them in the locker room that we lost that game in the first half," GHS coach Troy Greenlee said afterwards. "And it seemed like after that we were battling back and couldn't get enough defensive stops to make a difference."
Greencastle had a chance to win it in the fourth when Jordan Hickam drained a big three to bring the Tiger Cubs within four, 59-55, but missed opportunities from the floor and at the free throw line cost the Tiger Cubs.
"I'm not happy with the way we shot free throws tonight," Greenlee said. "We had a chance to get back into there in the end. You just can't leave those out on the floor."
Greencastle went 4-for-11 in the fourth quarter and 5-for-13 total from the charity stripe Saturday evening.
"Thirteen free throws is not enough free throws for us to be shooting in a game," Greenlee said. "We weren't very strong with the ball on the inside. We can't depend on our outside shooting all the time and we have to find other opportunities to score, like driving to the basket and I don't think we did enough of that tonight."
Even though the Tiger Cubs had the Clovers outsized, they were ineffective. Hutcheson, who checks in at 6-foot-7-inches, finished the night with 18 points, but struggled inside the post area. Went 7-for-16 in the post, mainly because of Cloverdale's Moore, who came off the bench for Cloverdale to guard him. He muscled Hutcheson around in the paint and forced him to take unorthodox shots.
"Hutcheson is a heck of a player and we were very conscious of where he was at all times," Rady said. "He is a very fine ball player and we had to start there when it came to defending this team.
"This is a great win for us because this is one of the best teams Greencastle has had since I've been here," Rady said.
Cloverdale is now 3-1 on the season while Greencastle is 1-2, and both teams will be back in action on Friday when they face each other again -- this time it's for a conference win.
Greencastle 17 9 14 15 -- 55
Cloverdale 14 16 19 12 -- 61
Cloverdale -- Moon 5 5-6 17, Clark 4 0-0 8, Hayden 3 2-2 11, Dean 1 3-4 5, Salter 4 0-0 8, Moore 4 0-0 8, Williams 2 0-0. Totals -- 23 FG, 10-14 FT, 61 TP.
Greencastle -- Moore 3 1-3 7, Haussin 0 0-0 0, Embry 1 0-0 3, Hickam 5 1-3 14, Lenihan 0 0-0 0, Lewis 6 1-1 13, Hutcheson 8 2-5 18. Totals -- 23 FG, 5-13 FT, 55 TP.
Next Game -- Cloverdale will host the Tiger Cubs for the first game in the West Central Conference season at 7:30 p.m.