The Bulldogs weren't able to hold onto a big 18-3 first quarter lead and watched helplessly as the Clovers dug themselves out of their hole, ultimately winning the contest 40-37.
"It was big. I told the girls, we really didn't do anything well tonight. We didn't win the game because we shot the ball well, because we handle the ball well -- we really just won on pure effort," CHS head coach Matthew Langdon said. "We had things we couldn't quite figure out on that zone. They just packed us in and when you have a bad shooting night, there's really no solution except to knock one down and we did not do that."
The Bulldogs came out hot, with Hannah Sullivan scoring 12 first quarter points to lead them to a sizeable advantage at 18-3 at the end of the first quarter. They wouldn't score in double figures again until the final quarter.
"The girls weren't upset when they came out, but it was almost a shock," Langdon said. "They (Union) hit just about everything coming out -- a bunch of threes and every open look. We weren't getting to the shooters, so they were open looks, but I think it was just a shock factor it happened so quick."
In the second quarter Cloverdale outscored Union 11-5 to cut the deficit to 23-14 entering halftime. Paige Gruener and Taylor Clark scored four points each to lead the Clovers in the quarter.
Cloverdale continued to patiently run its offense in the third quarter, cutting into the Bulldogs' lead once again. Gruener and Sydney Shrum scored three points each, with Justeena Wellington and Bailee Stevens chipping in two points each as the Clovers outpaced Union 11-4 and shaved the lead to 27-25.
Its patience finally paid off in the fourth quarter when Clark hit a bucket to tie the game at 29-all with 5:47 remaining. But just as fortune smiled on them, Union rattled off four quick points to regain the lead 33-29.
Another Clark basket trimmed Union's lead to 35-34 and with 2:35 remaining, Amillia Nally scored to give Cloverdale the lead at 36-35.
However, Union's Autumn Secrest hit two free tosses to give her squad the lead 37-36 with 47 seconds remaining.
With 30 seconds left in the contest Gruener went to the line and knocked down two crucial free throws to give the Clovers' the lead again. On the next possession, she stole the ball and took it the length of the floor to score, moving Cloverdale in front 40-37 to ensure her squad would win its first game of the season.
Gruener led the Clovers with 13 points, but Langdon acknowledged the seniors effort on the defensive side of the ball made a big difference.
"Gruener played some amazing ball pressure today when the traps weren't working, so we had to go straight up man-to-man. And for her to go the entire game on the ball, it really helped and allowed her teammates to get the steals," Langdon said.
Clark added eight points, with Nally chipping in six. Stevens scored four points, with Skiles and Shrum adding three each. Wellington scored two and Katie Walters added one point.
Langdon said Thursday's win would go a long way in boosting the team confidence and set them up, so that if the same scenario presented itself in the future, they would be ready for it.
"It's huge just for their team moral, just to get that win," he said. "Each game we've had a quarter where we scored two points and in each of those, it's cost us different things. It cost us a bigger deficit than we wanted against Tri-West and it cost us a hard-fought battle here and in the future it's going to cost us some loses.
"The girls are willing to work harder and we just need to figure out how to put four good quarters together and then we'll be able to play some more games and take better opponents to the wire."
Cloverdale will travel to Owen Valley Monday at 6 p.m.
Union 18 5 4 10 -- 37
Cloverdale 3 11 11 15 -- 40
Union -- Sullivan 14, Hale 9, Secrest 6, Smith 6, Rennick 2.
Cloverdale -- Gruener 13, Clark 8, Nally 6, Skiles 3, Shrum 3, Wellington 2, Walters 1.