Neese, Moore lead CHS to opening win
Scoring tandem pours in 56 as Clovers top Illini Bluffs
WASHINGTON, Ill. - The anticipated showdown between Cloverdale’s Cooper Neese and Taylor Bruninga of Illini Bluffs happened as expected.
The 6-8 Bruninga had 37 points and 17 rebounds, and the Tigers held Neese to just six second-half points.
However, Jalen Moore had Neese’s back and provided 26 points – 18 in the second half – as the Clovers won their season opener 76-68.
Neese finished with 30 points, with five of those coming in the first period and 19 in the second period. Neese added just one basket in the third period and four free throws in the final frame, but had several assists and was glad to have the help from Moore and others in picking up the win.
“As soon as Jake scored about the first four points in the third period, that kind of spread things out,” Neese said. “Jake stepped up and Nick Winders stepped up, and we were really good at the free throw line.”
The first quarter was played evenly, with Moore picking up his second foul with 2:51 left in the period and his third foul just 81 seconds later.
The Tigers scored the last five points of the period to take a 15-13 lead at the first stop.
Neese tied the game with two free throws early in the second quarter, before Illini Bluffs reeled off seven in a row to go up 22-15.
Neese decided that wasn’t how things should go and took the game into his own hands.
A two and a deep three preceded two Tiger free throws and Neese then hit another two and two more treys for a 28-24 lead.
Winders joined the fray and added another trey, followed by two Wilkes free throws and another Neese basket to conclude a 15-0 run.
Bruninga scored with 36 seconds left in the half and Neese hit two of three throws for a 37-26 halftime lead.
Neese and Moore had all but five of the Clovers’ first-half points.
Seth Pfaff got the first hoop of the third quarter for the Clovers and Wilkes hit two straight hoops after two Moore free throws for a 45-36 lead.
Neese added his only basket of the second half, and the remainder of the period was played relatively evenly with the Clovers holding a 54-43 lead at the final stop.
Cloverdale edged its lead up to 62-49 on a Moore basket with 5:01 left and he shortly added another hoop for a 66-51 lead.
At that point, the Clovers became tentative on offense with the big lead and quickly saw it evaporate.
The Tigers went to Bruninga twice in a row for 3-point plays, and then got a trey from Buddy Randle to cut the gap to 66-60.
The Clovers lived at the free throw line after that, however, with Moore hitting seven of eight down the stretch to seal the win.
CLOVERDALE (76) - Neese 9 8-9 30, Winders 1 3-4 6, Watts 1 0-0 2, Miller 0 0-0 0, Wilkes 4 2-2 10, Rossok 0 1-2 1, Pfaff 1 0-0 2, Moore 6 10-14 26. Totals 22 FG, 25-31 FT, 76 TP
ILLINI BLUFFS (68) - Randy 1 0-0 3, Crisp 2 0-0 4, Scott 2 1-2 5, Cox 6 3-4 17, Bruninga 12 12-24 37, Sondgeroth 1 0-0 2. Totals 24 FG, 16-29 FT, 68 TP
Cloverdale 13 24 17 22 - 76
Illini Bluffs 15 11 17 25 - 68
3-point goals - Randle, Cox 2, Bruninga, Neese 4, Winders, Moore 2.