Clovers start quickly, shoot incredibly in easy win

Sunday, January 8, 2017
Cooper Neese lays in two of his 33 points on Saturday afternoon.
Banner Graphic/Joey Bennett

NEW CASTLE — Sometimes teams have trouble adjusting to different shooting environments as they play in gymnasiums not on their regular schedules.

As the Cloverdale Clovers took the court on Saturday against Franklin County (Ky.) in the 2017 Indiana-Kentucky Challenge Cup, they had no such difficulties on their way to an impressive 88-64 win.

The Clovers poured in 29 first-quarter points on the strength of hitting 9 of 13 field goals, including 6 of 7 from 3-point range, to lead by 11 at the first stop.

Predictably doing most of the damage were Cooper Neese and Jalen Moore. Neese hit all six of his field goals (four treys) and 2 of 3 from the for 18 quick points. Moore added eight points on 2 of 3 shooting (one trey) and hit all three free throw attempts.

The Clovers ignored the larger background area behind the baskets in the world’s largest high school gymnasium and calmly buried 16 of 33 from 3-point range.

“This is how we thought we could shoot it,” coach Patrick Rady said. “We have designed our practice plan to include more time for shooting and defense. At times, I thought our defense was good this weekend; at other times we gave up too many baseline drives and uncontested shots. We spend over a half hour shooting every day, and a good time has been devoted to defense.

“We felt if we could improve in those two areas, we would be tough to beat.”

Neese cooled off in the second quarter, hitting just 1 of 6 shots, but Moore was eager to step up to keep the Clovers comfortably ahead with 11 points in the period. Seth Pfaff added a basket and Parker Watts contributed a trey as the Clovers held onto a 49-39 halftime advantage.

Neese had 22 first-half points, with Moore adding 19.

The Clovers came out with a much stronger defensive effort in the third period, allowing just nine points as they broke the game open for good.

“We made some adjustments at the half,” Rady said. “ Defensively we talked about their curl cuts, and that needed to be more ready to help on those cuts and call out the screens. We really challenged them at halftime that to put the game away it was going to have to come on the defensive end.”

Franklin County’s Anthony Valentine scored the first basket of the second half before the Clovers toughened on defense and scored 11 straight points.

Neese started the run with a 2-pointer, and Jake Wilkes — who missed much of the first half due to foul trouble — hit two straight hoops before Neese continued to dazzle the crowd with another long trey for a 58-41 cushion.

Following a Franklin County free throw, Moore scored five straight points on a free throw and two of his trademark baskets where he weaves through the defense and makes layups which seem to be improbable.

Neese hit two more treys to close out the quarter, and Cloverdale had a 69-48 lead at the finals stop.

Neese scored 28 points on Friday night against a double-teaming defense, and did not score in the final period — missing all five of his shot attempts to finish 11 of 21 overall, including 7 of 13 from long range, and 4 of 5 at the line. He also added a game-high 13 rebounds plus three assists.

With the defense sagging off of him, Moore drilled a trio of 3-pointers in the final period and added a pair of free throws to finish with 35 points, He hit 12 of 23 shots overall, including 5 of 9 from long range, and 6 of 8 free throws.

The Clovers improved their record to 10-5 with their fifth straight win and eighth in the last nine games after a rugged 2-4 start. Cloverdale is also 4-0 against out-of-state teams, having previously defeated Illini Bluffs, Marshall and Robinson from the state of Illinois.

They have a relatively light week, with only a road trip to Cascade on Friday for their final Western Indiana Conference divisional game.

Cloverdale is battling the Cadets for third place in the East Division, and Rady knows the game won’t be easy.

“Cascade has a lot of weapons, and it’s always a tough place to go play,” he said. “It’ll be their homecoming, and it will be tough. We will enjoy this for a couple of hours and be right back and ready to prepare for Cascade. It’s a really important game.”

FRANKLIN COUNTY (64) — Stivers 6-10 1-3 15, Lee 2-6 0-0 4, Valentine 4-7 1-3 9, Boling 1-5 2-2 4, Stewart 1-10 3-4 5, Phelps 0-0 0-0 0, Hubbard 5-7 3-4 14, Courtney 3-8 4-7 11, Mupparaju 0-0 0-0 0, Lee 0-0 0-0 0, Adkins 0-0 0-0 0, Roberts 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 23-54 FG, 14-23 FT, 64 TP

CLOVERDALE (88) — Neese 11-21 4-5 33, Wilkes 2-5 0-0 4, Pfaff 2-2 0-0 4, Winders 2-5 0-0 4, Moore 12-23 6-8 35, Watts 2-6 0-1 6, Miller 0-0 0-0 0, Kelly 0-1 0-0 0, Rossok 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-63 FG, 10-14 FT, 88 TP

Franklin County 18 21 9 16 — 64

Cloverdale 29 20 20 19 — 88

3-point shooting — FC 4-17 (Stivers 2-4, Lee 0-2, Boling 0-1, Stewart 0-5, Hubbard 1-2, Courtney 1-3), Cloverdale 16-33 (Neese 7-13, Winders 2-5, Moore 5-9, Watts 2-6). Rebounds — Cloverdale 36 (Neese 13), FC 35 (Valentine 8). Assists — FC 13 (Stivers 4), Cloverdale 8 (Neese 3). Turnovers — FC 14, Cloverdale 8.

Next game — Cloverdale (10-5) plays at Cascade on Friday. Franklin County fell to 5-11.

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