Cloverdale tops Eagles to reach championship

Friday, February 10, 2017
Thomas Fanning of South Putnam goes up for two against Cloverdale’s Jake Wilkes.
Banner Graphic/Joey Bennett

The Cloverdale Clovers imposed their will onto the South Putnam Eagles is the semifinal game of the Putnam County Classic on Thursday night, forcing the tempo and pulling away from South in the second and third quarters of the game to pick up a 66-45 victory.

Cloverdale used a 13-2 run to open the second quarter to break the game open and improve to 16-6 on the season and advance to the championship game against Greencastle Friday night.

The two teams have very different styles. South likes to slow the game down and limit the number of possessions in a game, while the Clovers want get up and down the floor and push the ball.

Early in the game the Eagles kept it at the pace they wanted.

The first six minutes of the game saw only 11 points scored with Cloverdale up 6-5, then Cooper Neese hit a trey and Seth Pfaff had a layup to begin forcing their style of play as the pressure defense began to force the tempo.

“Greg (South coach Dean) is an outstanding coach,” Cloverdale coach Patrick Rady said. “They want to get as many ball reversals as possible and take advantage of defensive mistakes.”

Cloverdale finished the quarter up 16-9 and then really took off. Jalen Moore sparked the Clovers early in the second with five quick points and Neese nailed three shots from downtown as Cloverdale sprinted out to a 37-19 halftime lead.

“We didn’t do a good job of executing our offense early on,” Dean said. “I thought we showed a lot patience, but didn’t execute. We had some good shots, but just didn’t finish.”

The two teams played rather evenly in the third quarter, but Cloverdale was still able to extend its lead to 54-27. The pressure defense applied by Cloverdale began to allow the pace to quicken and the Clovers began to get inside the lane and get some easy shots. Moore had 10 points in the quarter to pace the Clovers, while Neese added four points.

Allen Plunkett gets off a shot over Cloverdale's Cooper Neese.
Banner Graphic/Joey Bennett

Unknown to most people, the Butler-bound senior’s last bucket of the quarter was pretty special. The 6-foot-4 senior drove the lane for a dunk that gave Neese 2,344 career points, putting him in 10th place in IHSAA career scoring.

“What an accomplishment!” Rady said. “What a better way to do it than in the Putnam County Classic. He watched his brother play here and heard the stories about his dad playing here. He is a Putnam County kid and is proud of it.”

Cloverdale coasted in the fourth quarter, stretching the lead to 61-30 early in the fourth before South began cutting into the margin.

South managed to outscore the Clovers 18-12 in the final period, but it was too little, too late.

“We allowed them to split our defense and get into the lane,” Dean said. “We have to play better defensively tomorrow. North has some really good offensive players.”

The Eagles fell to 5-12 on the season and will take on the North Putnam Cougars tonight in the consolation game of the tournament.

The Clovers got the tempo exactly where they wanted in the final three quarters. For the game, Cloverdale took nine more shots from the field than the Eagles.

Cloverdale was able to shoot 50 percent from the floor (24-of-48) and hit eight-of-19 from behind the arc. They also forced South to turn the ball over 18 times.

“We like to play fast and get pressure. We were able to play 84 feet because of our defense,” Rady said.

South’s Allen Plunkett led the Eagles with 25 points, while Thomas Fanning added 10 points.

Neese led the Clovers with 28 points and Moore finished with 17. Neese also led both squads with 10 rebounds.

The Clovers know they have their work cut out for them in the title game, Rady said.

“Greencastle is a really good ball club,” he said. “We have got make sure we limit their shooters.”

CLOVERDALE (66) – Neese 10-15 4-5 28, Winders 1-5 0-0 3, Moore 6-13 4-4 17, Wilkes 1-3 2-2 5, Pfaff 3-4 0-1 6, Watts 2-5 0-0 4, Kelley 1-1 0-0 3, Rossok 0-0 0-0 0, Miller 0-2 0-0 0, Halloran 0-0 0-0 0, Hall 0-0 0-1 0. Totals 24-48 FG, 10-13 FT, 66 TP.

SOUTH PUTNAM (45) – Schnepp 3-5 0-0 6, Fanning 2-4 4-6 10, Watson 0-1 0-0 0, Plunkett 9-17 4-5 25, Scott 1-7 0-0 2, Lesko 0-0 0-2 0, Arnold 0-0 0-0 0, Zeffel 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 16-37 FG, 8-13 FT, 45 TP.

Cloverdale 16 21 17 12 – 66

South Putnam 9 10 8 18 – 45

3-point shooting – CHS 8-19 (Neese 4-7, Winders 1-4, Moore 1-3, Wilkes 0-1, Watts 0-2, Kelley 1-1), SP 5-14 (Fanning 2-3, Watson 0-1, Plunkett 3-7, Scott 0-3). Rebounds – CHS 29 (Neese 10, Winders 2, Moore 3, Wilkes 6, Pfaff 1, Watts 1, Rossok 1, Miller 1, Halloran 1, Hall 1) SP 23 (Schnepp 6, Fanning 1, Watson 1, Plunkett 6, Scott 3, Lesko 1, Arnold 1, Zeffel 2) FG Pct. – CHS 50.0, SP 43.2. FT Pct. – CHS 76.9, SP 61.5. Turnovers – CHS 11, SP 18.

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