Clovers move to semifinals

Thursday, March 1, 2007
Cloverdale's Michael Neese elevates for a layup during the Clovers' 65-58 win over Cascade in the first round of the South Putnam Sectional Wednesday. Neese scored a game-high 30 points.

PUTNAMVILLE -- Defense was the name of the game for the Cloverdale Clovers as they knocked off defending sectional champs Cascade, 65-58, in the second round of the class 2A sectional at South Putnam.

"Two good teams went at it," coach Pat Rady said. "We were just fortunate enough to win."

Cloverdale's night got started with Craig Blair scoring the opening bucket of the game but Cascade eased into the lead for most of the opening quarter as Jason Mink connected on three three-pointers in the quarter.

Cloverdale stayed strong and tied the game when Michael Neese hit three free throws after being fouled on a three attempt. The Clovers grabbed the lead at 16-14 when Blair hit a layup after a Cadet turnover.

The defensive tone was set early as Christian Cheatham soared for a monster block with 1:27 left in the opening quarter. Cheatham was a menace in the middle for the Clovers, either blocking or altering Cadet shots all evening. As the quarter ended, Cloverdale and Cascade were deadlocked at 18-all.

Neese, who had a game-high 30 points, drained a three-pointer a minute into the second and gave the Clovers a 21-18 advantage. Neese also scored on a breakaway created by a Cheatham block.

Cloverdale held the lead for the entire quarter, mixing smothering defense with an overpowering presence with Cheatham, Ryan Dean and Seth Trinkle patrolling the inside. When the buzzer sounded ending the half, Cloverdale held a 35-31 advantage.

Cascade scored on its first two possessions in the second half, as Michael Galyan and Bradley Suter scored quick buckets to knot the game at 35-all. Suter scored again with under six minutes to go to give the Cadets the lead, 37-35. Cloverdale surged back into the lead as Cheatham and Blair scored, giving the Clovers the lead for good.

As the third ended, Cloverdale hung onto a four-point lead, 46-42 and had only a quarter standing in the way of advancing.

The fourth quarter presented no surprises from either team, as the Clovers continued to do what the did all night, dominate the pace of the game.

"I thought we did a really good job of controlling the tempo of the game," Rady said.

Cloverdale did a good job of forcing the Cadets into quick shots and left little opportunity for second-chance points.

Neese hit key free throws down the stretch, including 3-of-4 with under a minute, to advance the Clovers to a Friday night date with Monrovia.

"When we had the lead with four minutes to go, we decided to go with the spread," Rady said after the contest. "We thought we'd either drive it and get fouled or hit layups."

Cloverdale will face Monrovia Friday at 7:30 p.m. at South Putnam. Cascade finished the season at 13-8.

At Putnamville

Class 2A South Putnam Sectional

First Round

Cloverdale 18 17 11 19 -- 65

Cascade 18 13 11 16 -- 58

Cloverdale (65) -- Neese 30, Blair 15, Cheatham 12, Trinkle 2, Dean 4, Gregg 2. Totals -- FG 21-47 FT 16-23 TP 65.

Cascade (58) -- Daugherty 22, Mink 15, Suter 8, Galyan 6, Austin 4, Guthrie 3. Totals -- FG 22-63 FT 7-10 TP 58.

3pt. FG -- Cloverdale 4 (Neese 4), Cascade 6 (Daugherty 3, Mink 3).

Next game -- Cloverdale will face Monrovia Friday at 7:30 p.m. at South Putnam. Cascade finished the season at 13-8.

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