GREENFIELD REGIONAL: Hot start by Scecina too much for Cloverdale to overcome in regional final
GREENFIELD — With Indianapolis Scecina shooting less than 30 percent as a team from 3-point range, Cloverdale coach Patrick Rady sent his squad into a 3-2 zone defense to start Saturday night’s Greenfield-Central Regional championship.
Sometimes even the most statistically logical methods don’t work, as the Crusaders came out firing — hitting three treys in the first 3:53 of the game.
Scecina extended its lead to 16 points at halftime and 18 in the middle of the third quarter before the Clovers came back strongly, pulling within two points in the final period before eventually losing 58-52.
The defeat brought the end to the stellar career of Cloverdale’s Jalen Moore, who earlier in the day had surpassed the 1,000-point mark for the season and finished the day in 11th place on the all-time Indiana scoring list.
“Our comeback shows the resiliency of this group,” Rady said. “They have not quit all year long. We were in a position to where we got it down to four points, and we told them it had to start on the defensive end.
“We were able to get those stops, and then the shots started coming for us.”
Scecina led 13-5 after a trey from Makylin Brown (the third different Crusader to connect), and the Crusaders stayed within 17-12 after one quarter thanks to three 3-pointers from Parker Watts.
The deeper and more athletic Crusaders scored two baskets for each one by the Clovers in the second quarter, and gradually moved the lead up to 36-20 at the half.
Moore had two points in the first quarter, hitting one of three shots from the field, and added all of his team’s eight points in the second quarter.
“We dug ourselves a little bit of a hole there,” Rady said. “It was one of those things where at this level, you can’t do that if you expect to win. They were long and athletic, and did a good job of getting out to our shooters in the corner.”
Moore hit the first two baskets of the second half to trim a little bit off the Scecina lead, then the Crusaders scored six more in a row to go up 42-24 with 4:51 left.
At that point, the Clovers started digging in, getting their stops and finding the basket.
They scored the final six points of the third quarter and the first 10 of the fourth quarter — getting contributions from five different players.
Jake Wilkes had four points in the run, Nick Winders had a basket, Moore had a steal and a layup, Jake Kelley hit a trey and Watts added a two and a three to make it 42-40 with five minutes to play.
The Crusaders broke their dry spell of nearly seven minutes with six straight points to go up 48-40.
Moore sandwiched a pair of free throws and a trey around a Scecina free throw, and the Clovers still trailed only 49-45 with 2:34 left.
Scecina had too much left in the tank, however. Makylin Brown hit a pair of baskets and Manuel Brown added a pair of free throws for the fatal blows, and Scecina led 55-45 with one minute to play.
Moore hit a pair of baskets in the final minute and added a trey at the buzzer to finish with 28 points in his final game.
Like his coach, Moore was proud of the team’s effort to come back from such a huge deficit.
“I’m really proud of our effort,” Moore said. “Our guys came in here with heart and never gave up, no matter how much we were down. I wish I had given a little bit more, but hopefully our younger guys can take it and learn from this game.
“We never gave up, and just decided to push the ball and get it to our shooters,” he added. “We didn’t box out to our capability.”
Moore thought the Clovers took Scecina out of its “comfort zone” in the third period, allowing just six points to the Crusaders.
“They’re a great team,” he said. “I hope they go all the way and win it.”
The Clovers went 83-28 during Moore’s career, winning three Putnam County championships and four straight sectionals.
“It’s just been great,” he said. “My freshman year, I was so small. I didn’t think I’d be able to do any of this. I was probably 5-foot-4 and 110 pounds.
“I talked to coach Rady at the end of my freshman year and said I wanted to become a great basketball player, one of the best that’s ever done it,” Moore added. “I appreciate him from the bottom of my heart, coach [Greg] Thomas, coach [Karl] Turk and all the coaches.”
Moore and his family moved to Cloverdale from Decatur Central when he was in eighth grade, and the transition was not an easy one.
“I love Cloverdale because of how they accepted me,” he said. “Where I came from is so different ... In my first year in eighth grade, I didn’t really like it here. I wanted to move back, but my dad said to stick it out because it’s the best decision for you.”
Rady hopes the team taking an additional step in the tourney, after losing its regional opener for the past three seasons, can help the Clovers to continue their success in the future.
“I’m so proud of our kids and what they have accomplished this year,” he said “For our kids to bond together, after losing an Indiana All-Star in Cooper Neese, speaks volumes of the program and what we do.
“Cooper left a legacy, and now Jalen and Nick are leaving legacies,” Rady added. “Jalen’s work ethic is unbelievable, and our younger kids see that. Nick is such a great teammate. He went through everybody after the game and gave an emotional speech and told each player what they meant to him. We had such a great season because this group played together so well.
“I wish we would have come out on the other end, but Scecina is a great team.”
Moore finished with 28 points for the Clovers and Watts added 14.
Manual Brown, a 6-1 junior who (along with Moore) was under the watchful eye of IUPUI coach Jason Gardner, paced Scecina with 20 points.
Makylin Brown added 14 and Cobie Dillard had 12.
Scecina advances to the semistate on Saturday at Washington, and will play Forest Park for the right to advance to the Class 2A state finals.
Cloverdale finished its season 21-7, and with its semifinal victory got its first regional victory since 1983.
SCECINA (58) — Man. Brown 7-13 4-5 20, Dillard 4-11 1-2 12, Baker 2-5 0-0 4, Mak.Brown 6-8 1-3 14, Hatton 1-2 0-0 2, New 0-0 0-0 0, Clancy 1-2 4-5 6. Totals 21-42 FG, 10-14 FT, 58 TP
CLOVERDALE (52) — Moore 11-20 3-3 28, Wilkes 1-7 3-6 5, Winders 1-2 0-0 2, Watts 5-10 0-0 14, J.Kelley 1-4 0-0 3, N.Kelley 0-3 0-0 0, Miller 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-46 FG, 6-9 FT, 52 TP
Scecina 17 19 6 16 — 58
Cloverdale 12 8 10 22 — 52
3-point shooting — Scecina 6-14 (Man.Brown 2-6, Dillard 3-5, Mak.Brown 1-1, Clancy 0-1), Cloverdale 8-22 (Moore 3-6, Wilkes 0-2, Watts 4-8, J.Kelley 1-3, N.Kelley 0-3).