Clovers struggle in Wabash Valley Classic opener

Monday, December 26, 2016
In a play that typified the Cloverdale offense on Monday, Cooper Neese drives to the basket only to force a contested shot against the Linton-Stockton defense. Neese scored 30 points on 9 of 29 shooting and pulled down 20 rebounds in the 67-54 loss.
Banner Graphic/JOEY BENNETT

Loss to Linton sends CHS into consolation bracket

TERRE HAUTE – Patrick Rady’s first-ever game coached on the Terre Haute South court named after his father is one he’d like to quickly forget.

Rady’s Cloverdale Clovers were held 20 points under their nightly scoring average through their first nine games, and lost their opening-round game 67-54 to Linton-Stockton in the First Financial Wabash Valley Classic.

Linton’s Miners played their trademark tough defense in forcing Cloverdale into taking more difficult shots than the Clovers desired, and the Clovers had trouble connecting when they did get a good shot.

“Linton had something to do with that,” he said. “They were willing to play offense and defense longer than we were willing to play offense. They were tougher than us.”

Rady feels Linton has a “team identity,” which was the difference in the game.

“We don’t have one right now, and we have to find one,” he said. “We have to be true to ourselves and who we are. Linton took good shots, and was patient until they got a good shot.

“They took away the paint, and took us out of some of the things we wanted to do.”

The Clovers scored nine first-quarter points on a trio of treys, two by Cooper Neese and one by Nick Winders.

They were 0 for 10 on their other shots in the period, while Linton was 7 of 17 on its way to a 14-9 lead at the first stop.

Linton’s Evan Slover hit the first basket of the second period to put his team up by seven, before Cloverdale mounted one of its few runs in the game.

Neese started a 6-0 streak by picking up his dribble at the free throw line, and when no movement created any open shots he bounced the ball off the backboard to himself – catching the carom and putting the ball back in the basket for a creative hoop.

Neese and Jake Wilkes added baskets as the Clovers cut the gap to 16-15 with 6:11 left in the first half, but Linton got treys from junior reserve Noah Woodward and sophomore Tucker Hayes, followed by baskets from Woodward and Silas Robbins for a 26-15 advantage.

Cloverdale got the deficit down to 10 late in the first half and to 11 late in the third quarter, but could never get the difference into single digits.

The Miners hit 9 of 16 field goals in the second quarter, including 4 of 5 from 3-point range, while the Clovers connected on just 7 of 17.

Linton held a 36-24 halftime lead, and scored the first five points of the period to attain a 17-point lead.

The Clovers held tough, as Neese scored six straight points on four free throws and a basket, but still trailed 47-33 at the last stop.

Four straight Jalen Moore points and two free throws from Neese cut it to 54-41 with 4:18 left, but the Miners were able to trade baskets for the remainder of the game by getting several wide-open layups.

“At that point, we were gambling to try to get back in the game. Once they have gotten you down 12 or 14, they were only going to take a layup,” Rady said. “We did some things to come out of our team defense, and we didn’t rotate and get back on the back side. They are so fundamentally sound that it’s hard to throw any trickery at them.”

Neese led the Clovers with 31 points, but was not nearly as efficient as on most nights. He hit just 9 of 29 field goals, including 5 of 15 from 3-point range.

Neese had 15 of his points in the fourth period, hitting 3 of 5 from long range, and added 20 rebounds to his totals.

Moore added 17 points, but the remainder of the Clovers compiled just six points.

On the night, the Clovers hit just 16 of 56 shots (28 percent), while Linton hit exactly half of its 58 field goal attempts.

Woodward led the Miners with 17 points, while Sammy Robbins had 14 and Tyler Meurer had 10.

The Clovers fall into the consolation bracket, and play at 4 p.m. today against South Vermillion – which lost 71-36 to tournament favorite Terre Haute South on Monday.

“SV is going to test us,” Rady said. “They do a good job with backcuts and everything they do, and we are going to have to be good on the help side. We just have to play the next team in front of us and do everything we can to win that game.”

Rady agrees that a strong run over the remainder of the four-day tourney can help to salvage a positive experience after a disappointing opening night.

“Right now, I want to see if we can find five guys who want to guard people,” he said. “We had a good scouting report, and we knew they were going to clear the floor and drive the basketball. That comes down to just having heart and standing in front of somebody, and at times we just didn’t do that.

“That was the disappointing thing.”

CLOVERDALE (54) – Neee 9-29 8-8 31, Moore 5-15 6-7 17, Winders 1-6 0-0 3, Wilkes 1-3 0-0 2, Pfaff 0-2 0-0 0, Watts 0-1 0-0 0, Rossok 0-0 1-2 1, Miller 0 0-0 0. Totals 16-56 FG, 15-17 FT, 54 TP

LINTON-STOCKTON (67) – Slover 3-7 2-3 8, Dieball 3-11 0-0 7, Hayes 2-4 0-0 5, Williams 0-1 0-0 0, Si.Robbins 2-4 1-2 5, Meurer 5-11 0-1 10, Woodward 7-10 3-4 17, Smith 0-1 1-2 1, Sa.Robbins 7-8 0-0 14. Totals 29-58 FG, 4-8 FT, 67 TP

Cloverdale 9 16 9 21 – 54

Linton-Stockton 14 22 11 20 – 67

3-point shooting – Cloverdale 7-23 (Neese 5-15, Moore 1-4, Winders 1-3, Pfaff 0-1), Linton 5-9 (Slover 0-1, Dieball 1-2, Hayes 1-2, Woodward 3-4). Turnovers – Linton 9, Cloverdale 11.

Next game – Cloverdale (5-5) plays South Vermillion at 4 p.m. today. Linton is 4-2 and plays Terre Haute South today at 7 p.m.

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