CLOVERDALE -- Having to sit on their hands through the girls' game, the Cloverdale fan base watched the homecoming proceedings and hoped the boys would end the night well.
And did they ever end the night well.
An 11-point halftime lead ballooned to as high as 24 in the second half, as Cloverdale got a win to end the evening over the visiting South Putnam Eagles, 66-34. All five Clover seniors scored in the contest, which was eventful just a few minutes into the first quarter when Brandon Moon scored his 1,000th career point in Cloverdale colors.
The jumper from the right side gave Cloverdale a 7-2 lead within the opening three minutes, though they would have to fight off a determined Eagle push.
The Clovers enjoyed a 16-11 lead after one, but found both Moon and Salter on the bench with foul trouble.
Even with the pair on the bench, the Clovers continued their good shooting and incorporated more players into the fold in the second quarter. Jacob Clark knocked down a three within the opening 10 seconds to jumpstart Cloverdale. Jordan Hayden then stepped in, knocking down a pair of three pointers.
Senior Jaquan Moore got his only basket of the contest to get the Cloverdale student section back up and active.
South Putnam was able to keep hanging around ,though, thanks in part to the play of Cameron Chestnut, who scored 15 points in the opening half to keep the score close, though the Eagles were down 33-22 at halftime.
After Robbie Gibson scored with a layup at the 1:33 mark in the third, the game completely ran away from the Eagles. The next point the team would get would be an Adam Masters free throw nearly three minutes into the final quarter and would not score another basket until the clock hit zeros at the end of the fourth.
By then, the celebrations had already begun for the Clovers. Afterwards, Clover head coach Pat Rady was happy to laud his team's performance.
"That was really a total team effort," Rady said. "They played well on both ends, particularly on the defensive end, where they played good team defense. The seniors played really keyed, with a lot of passion as it was their last homecoming. It was good to go out on a win."
"Any of the county and conference games are tough games. South came in with a game plan that was well orchestrated, but tonight was our night. We played tough both ways, and the ball bounced our way."
The crowd was certainly also on Rady's mind.
"We had a great crowd tonight. The support, the atmosphere was great, and the players responded to it. There was effort there from the players because of them. We definitely had a sixth man tonight."
Shooting was also a big deal for Cloverdale, who was able to knock down seven three pointers and got several great looks from out of bounds plays.
"We had a deal with the players this week. They had to shoot 300 three pointers before they were allowed to shoot one in the game," Rady said. "There was a lot of good ball movement tonight, a lot of drives, in and outs, kick outs to open shooters, and the shooters took good shots. We shot well tonight."
The win also placed them in position to possibly share the WCC title.
"We play Speedway next week, and, I'm not sure if they've lost yet in the conference, but if we win we'll at least tie for the conference. We're certainly in the hunt for it."
South Putnam head coach Micah Elliott was not as enthused as Rady about his teams' performance.
"It's a game of possessions. We take them one at a time. We had 62 possessions, and we had 25 turnovers. Most of them came from minimal things. We weren't pressured, and we had scored on their press, and they backed off it. The turnovers were in the halfcourt, mainly mental mistakes," said Elliott.
"We have to correct these things. We had scoring chances, and even with it being their homecoming, we played alright in the first half. It was 11 points heading into the third, and on our first 11 possessions in the third we had eight turnovers. Give Cloverdale credit, they had the opportunity to hit the knockout punch and they did.
"We had defensive lapses. Defense is a mentality you have to have, to be physical, to have a mindset, and we just have to go out there and do it. We gave up too many easy buckets," he added
With their own homecoming tonight, Elliot is convinced they can turn it around against Riverton Parke.
"We can do it. We'll come in tomorrow, watch film, correct the mistakes, try to get a little better and really try to compete for four quarters," he said. "We have to take care of the ball. In the two games we won, against Clay City and Cascade, we averaged 12 turnovers. That's where we need to be. That's how we won and how we can win."
South Putnam 11 11 9 3 -- 34
Cloverdale 16 17 16 17 -- 66
South Putnam -- Gibson 1, 0-0, 2, Welty 0, 1-2, 1, Chestnut 9, 1-1, 20, Varvel 0, 0-0, 0, Freeman 2, 0-0, 4, Stanton 0, 0-0, 0, Masters 3, 1-3, 7
Three pointers: Chestnut
Cloverdale -- Moon 5, 4-8, 17, Clark 4, 1-2, 11, Schisney 1, 0-0, 2, Strunk 1, 0-0, 2, Hayden 3, 0-0, 8, Salter 7, 0-1, 14, Moore 1, 2-2, 4, Williams 1, 1-2, 3
Three pointers -- Moon (3), Clark (2), Hayden (2)
Next Games -- South Putnam will host Riverton Parke on homecoming tonight. Cloverdale will be at Speedway next Friday.