The hosts raced out to an early 11-2 lead three minutes into the game before the Clovers got going. A 5-0 run by the visitors saw them trail by four, but would not get close enough to take the lead before the Eagles took off.
An 8-2 run over the final three minutes saw South Putnam take a 19-8 lead into the second quarter, where the Eagle defense did a number on the Clovers.
Two Katie Fulkerson free throws were all that Cloverdale was able to get in the second period as the hosts cranked up the pressure. Leanna Masters had five of her game high twelve points in the quarter as the Eagles got the looks they wanted and cruised into halftime up 34-10.
Cloverdale started off quicker in the second half. Fulkerson scored the opening four points of the quarter for the Clovers but, as had been the case in previous quarters, South Putnam's ball movement created more looks and more points.
The Eagles were able to use their bench to maintain the lead as Cloverdale entered another drought in the final period, scoring three points as the hosts claimed the victory and the chance to win the County Tournament against Greencastle Saturday night.
Afterwards, Eagle head coach Lindsey Blackman felt her squad did what it needed to do against Cloverdale.
"Our goal was to be aggressive and set the tone defensively. We did that with our press, so the intensity was there and we were proud of the girls with that. When the shots started falling from the outside, they were able to look inside, so it worked all around," Blackman said.
"It was nice having a deep bench and getting all eleven in with significant minutes. I told them after the game I could look at all eleven and say 'You all did something good. You all contributed in a positive way,' and that's rare to be able to say."
"In the first half, we had to win this game or the second half wouldn't matter. We had a significant enough lead in the second half to use all eleven players and fall back to our man defense in the half-court," Blackman added.
Cloverdale head coach Matthew Langdon summed the game up very simply.
"South Putnam just outplayed us. It came down to that. We're going to mark it up to a bad night, but you've got to give it South Putnam. They were a better team tonight and they showed it in all aspects," Langdon said.
"On the defensive end, they forced a lot of turnovers. On the offensive end, they did what they wanted. They crashed the boards hard. They just played hard."
"We had some fight here and there, but we didn't have it tonight. It was just a bad night," Langdon added."
Cloverdale will play North Putnam in the first game on Saturday evening. Langdon said ball handling will be the key to a win.
"I think it's a simple formula for us. We need to handle the ball. The turnovers have been the downfall when we've lost games. I think if we just need to come out, handle the ball and put some pressure on the defense end and be aggressive," Langdon said.
"I expect us to be a different team tomorrow when we come back. We'll just call it a bad night tonight and use tomorrow to get better."
Blackman and the Eagles will play Greencastle in the title game afterwards. Blackman said that defense was the key to victory.
"It's going to take team defense. We need to a better job in team defense and blocking out."
"We didn't do a good job in the first half tonight getting rebounds and it's going to take limiting Greencastle to one shot, getting rebounds and playing good interior defense."
"They're a bigger team than Cloverdale, so we need to be able to utilize our post and post defense, because defense is going to win this game."
At South Putnam
Putnam County Tournament Game 2
Cloverdale 8 2 9 3 -- 22
South Putnam 19 15 16 8 -- 58
South Putnam -- 22-57 FG, 13-22 FT
Masters 12, Cash 10, Minor 8, York 8, Dabkowski 6, Thompson 5, Jones 5, Varvel 4
Cloverdale -- 8-41 FG, 6-10 FT
Fulkerson 8, Shrum 7, Gruener 4, Nally 2, Stevens 1
Next Game -- Cloverdale plays North Putnam Saturday at 6:30 while South Putnam plays Greencastle in the championship game of the Putnam County Tournament after the consolation game.