"We stuck to our gameplan," CHS head coach Pat Rady said. "I was very proud of them. I think we caught them off guard with our style of play, both defensively and offensively. We made a big turnaround from the last time we played them. That's all you ask.
"You ask your kids to be playing their best ball at the end of the year and I thought last Thursday night, and tonight, by far we've played the best ball. So, you have to be proud," Rady commented.
Both squads battled and it all came down to the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
The big shift for Monrovia came in the third quarter when Brent McCleerey came alive and drained three straight long-range bombs to push the Bulldogs out to a 35-28 lead. They rode a nine-point lead into the fourth, but the Clovers weren't ready to give up on their season.
Senior Jacob Clark opened the final quarter with a three-pointer, followed by fellow seniors Kevin Dean and Brandon Moon providing baskets to pull the Clovers within one at 39-38 at the 5:24 mark.
Jason Salter, a senior, put Cloverdale in front seven seconds later, but Zane Shuee put Monrovia back in front for good on the Bulldogs' next possession. From there, Cloverdale scraped and fought, but could not quite overcome Monrovia.
Senior Kevin Dean, who had played excellent interior defense on Shuee fouled out with 2:42 remaining. The Clovers also had their offensive chances down the stretch, but a three-pointer from Clark circled the rim without going in and Moon had an opportunity for a possible four-point play, but his shot, too, touched every part of the rim except the net.
Something that has become a staple of a Cloverdale game is a raucous cheer block and Tuesday was no different. With 18.7 second remaining, and down three, Cloverdale took the court after a timeout to thunderous applause and cheers. If you didn't look at the scoreboard, one might have thought the team up moments away from advancing.
With 6.5 seconds remaining, the Clovers' final shot fell short, the buzzer sounded and they closed the season with an 11-11 record, but nothing to hang their heads about
Moon led the Clovers with 14 points, followed by Jordan Hayden with nine and Salter and Clark with eight each. Donovan Scisney added five points, Aaron Williams three and Dean chipped in two points in the loss.
The game marked the final time Moon, Clark, Dean, Salter and Jaquan Moore would don a Cloverdale jersey, but the impact and impression those exiting seniors have had on the program will linger much longer.
"The seniors showed great leadership," Rady explained. "It wasn't just tonight that they showed us leadership; they showed us leadership last summer when they came in at 7:30 in the morning. They showed us leadership in the weight room when they were doing the weights stronger and much better -- the effort and desire and they led the way.
"So the underclassmen have has some leaders now to follow and I think that's what's important," he continued. "If they go out in the walk of life with the competitiveness, the desire and the passion that they've had with basketball and put that into life challenges, they're going to be successful.
"And that's what's important. That's what any sport or any athlete must learn in athletics -- there are mountains and there are valleys. You're going to have them both, but you build in the valley to reach the mountain. You might not reach that other mountain, but the fun of it's building and trying to get there, especially when you do it as a team," Rady said.
The Clovers led the game at the half with Hayden and Scisney providing some key moments.
Hayden continued his hot shooting in the second quarter, connecting on 3-of-4 from three-point range and Scisney had the chance for a three-point play at the 2:58 mark in the second after slicing his way to the basket and hitting the shot while falling to the floor.
But for all the hot shooting, slicing moves and wonderful rebounds, for Rady and his Clovers it all comes down to one thing and one thing only -- the team. Rady shared some of his philosophy after the game, and true to character, its focus was a team.
"Basketball is such a great sport," Rady said. "You can go out and get yourself better. You can get in the backyard just by yourself with a ball and go get better. But, if you don't have four other players on the court and you don't have so many players on the bench, that works and pushes you in practice -- it's a team game and that's what's so great about it.
"You have individual skill, but the bottom line is it's got to be a team and you play for what's on the front of the jersey and I sure thought we did that tonight," Rady concluded.
The Clovers end the season with a record of 11-11 and were third in the West Central Conference with a mark of 4-2.
At South Putnam
South Putnam Class 2A Sectional
Cloverdale 6 19 5 19 -- 49
Monrovia 12 9 18 14 -- 53
Cloverdale (49) -- Moon 14, Hayden 9, Salter 8, Clark 8, Scisney 5, Williams 3, Dean 2. Totals: 15-40 FG, 13-20 FT, 49 TP.
Monrovia (53) -- Shuee 15, McCleerey 13, Conner 10, Everett 7, Johnson 4, Benefiel 2, Watson 2. Totals: 18-45 FG, 12-21 FT, 53 TP.