Clovers sharp from long range in win over South Putnam
The Cloverdale Clovers used long-range sniping Friday night to advance to the Class 2A Sectional 44 championship game.
The Clovers hit 11-of-23 three-pointers en route to a 60-37 victory over Putnam County rival, South Putnam. Cloverdale is looking for its fourth straight sectional championship and will have to beat another county school, North Putnam, tonight to pick up the title.
Cloverdale had six players hit from deep as the Clovers methodically extended their lead over the Eagles in each quarter. The Clovers’ pressure defense limited the Eagle scoring all night long.
“I thought our spacing was good on offense,” Cloverdale head coach Patrick Rady said. “I thought we took good shots, but it all started on the defensive end.”
The Clovers jumped out to a big lead early, using a 9-0 run midway through the first quarter to put some distance between the Eagles and themselves.
The Eagles couldn’t get any offense going as they only took four shots in the first quarter. They hit three of them, but six turnovers doomed South as the Clovers used that pressure to get great looks offensively. Cloverdale hit an astounding 5-of-7 from behind the arc in the period and led 18-8 heading into the second quarter.
“You can’t turn the ball over against a team like Cloverdale,” South Putnam head coach Greg Dean said. “When they get extra possessions it is tough to win. They really shot the ball well tonight.”
Parker Watts hit a pair of treys in the first quarter to lead the way for Cloverdale with six points, while Jake Wilkes added five points.
The Eagles kept the pace where they wanted it in the second quarter, limiting the possessions as the two teams only combined for 15 points, but the Eagles couldn’t muster enough offense to cut into the lead. Cloverdale extended the lead to 28-13 by halftime.
“They have got some scorers and they do a really good job of running their sets,” Rady said. “We wanted to pressure the ball and get into their guards and push them back to the 10-second line.”
Cloverdale continued to bomb away after the intermission. The Clovers hit four more three-pointers in the third quarter. Cloverdale led 46-24 at the end of that period.
The Clovers had hit 11-of-18 from long range heading into the fourth quarter as the Eagle defense was concentrating on stopping the state’s leading scorer, Jalen Moore. They were effective in the fact that Moore had his lowest offensive output of the season with 21 points, but that attention and Moore’s ability to find his teammates in the offense was a key.
Nick Winders, Watts, Wilkes and Moore all hit three-pointers in the quarter and Moore was able to lead the way with seven points. South again struggled, turning the ball over five times. When the Eagles kept possession, they were able to hit some shots as they went 4-of-6 in quarter, but that was not enough to overcome the Clovers’ relentless offense.
“I thought we did a really good job of limiting Moore,” Dean said. “They had a lot people hit shots tonight. Moore really was able to find his teammates.”
Moore was able to move into 13th place on the state’s all-time scoring list with his 21-point effort.
The Clover defense never let the Eagles get into a rhythm on the night. South managed to put some scores together late in the game, but it was not enough to get any closer as the Clovers were able to maintain their lead en route to the 60-37 victory.
South finished the game with 15 turnovers, while the Clovers only turned the ball over seven times.
“Our defensive pressure was good all night, and also in the second half of the Monrovia (first-round sectional) game. That is how we have to play. We have got to pressure the ball,” Rady said.
Allen Plunkett led the Eagles with 19 points and 10 rebounds on the night. Moore led all scorers with 21 points and Wilkes added 10.
The Eagles finished their season with an 11-13 mark, while Cloverdale improved to 19-6 heading into the championship game. The Clovers have their work cut out for them, according to Rady.
“North Putnam is healthy again,” he said. “They are dangerous when they are full strength.”
SOUTH PUTNAM (37) – Fanning 1-4 0-0 3, Plunkett 8-14 2-4 19, Watson 1-1 0-0 3, Scott 3-8 0-1 8, Lesko 0-0 0-2 0, Schnepp 0-1 0-0 0, Gregory 1-2 2-2 4, Arnold 0-1 0-0 0, VanSickle 0-1 0-0 0, Heavin 0-0 0-0 0, Teipen 0-0 0-0 0, Blaydes 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-32 FG, 4-9 FT, 37 TP.
CLOVERDALE (60) – Winders 2-2 0-0 6, Watts 3-7 0-0 9, Wilkes 4-6 0-0 10, J. Kelley 2-6 0-0 5, Gill 0-0 0-0 0, Moore 5-15 9-10 21, N. Kelley 2-3 2-2 7, Miller 1-2 0-0 2, Sims 0-0 0-0 0, Ashcraft 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-41 FG, 11-12 FT, 60 TP.
South Putnam 8 5 11 13 — 37
Cloverdale 18 10 18 14 — 60
3-Point Shooting — SP 5-18 (Fanning 1-3, VanSickle 0-1, Plunkett 1-4, Watson 1-1, Scott 2-6, Schnepp 0-1, Gregory 0-1, Arnold 0-1), CHS 11-23 (Winders 2-2, Watts 3-6, Wilkes 2-3, J. Kelley 1-3, Moore 2-7, N. Kelley 1-2). Rebounds – SP 21 (Fanning 1, Plunkett 10, Watson 1, Scott 1, Schnepp 1, Gregory 3, Arnold 1) CHS – 23 (Winders 5, Watts 2, Wilkes 3, Gill 1, Moore 4, N. Kelley 3, Miller 1) FG Pct. – SP 43.8, CHS 46.3. FT Pct. – SP 44.4, CHS 91.7. Turnovers – SP 15 CHS 7.