CLOVER — Seeking to rebound from a narrow loss at Nation Ford Friday, the Clover High School boys basketball team shifts its focus to the first-ever Clover Optimist Classic.
The Blue Eagles open play in Thursday’s 16-team tournament by hosting Indian Land at 7:30 p.m. in the CHS new gym.
Nation Ford’s offensive presence under the boards enabled the home-standing Falcons to hang on for a 57-52 Region 3-AAAA win in Falcon Country.
The Blue Eagles began the second half on an 8-0 run, slicing Nation Ford’s double-digit lead to a scant three points in the early moments of the third quarter.
Clover’s Bryce Allen nailed three 3-pointers to lead the second-half surge.
A bright spot for the Blue Eagles was senior mainstay Taylor Hoover’s offensive production. The CHS floor leader made his presence felt in a huge way, scoring 20 points against the home-standing Falcons.
Nation Ford maintained a 10-point lead for much of the first half.
The Blue Eagles’ Alex Thompson scored twice to cut the Falcons’ lead to eight points at 28-20 with 90 seconds left in the half.
But the Falcons were equal to the challenge in the second half and held on for the narrow win before the home fans.
With Hoover scoring a game-high 20 points, Bryce Allen was next with 12 points. Alex Thompson finished with 8 points; Arnaldo Toro, 6; Jevon Blake, 3; Markevious Cole, 2; and RJ Moore, 1.
Riley Hilton was the leading scorer for Nation Ford with 19 points.
In earlier action last week, the Blue Eagles fell to South Pointe in a Region 3-AAAA home game in he CHS new gym.
The CHS boys had opportunities but South Pointe’s quickness paid off at the offensive end and the Stallions were able to notch a road win.
The Blue Eagles had balanced scoring despite the loss.
Thompson and Hoover each scored 12 points. Toro also finished in double-figures with 11 points. Jevon Blake scored 9 points; Allen, 4; and Ratwan Pitts, 2.
“We lost to a good team tonight,” head coach Bailey Jackson said after the game. “We can play at their level. The kids have good attitudes and need to put four quarters together to get on track.”
Toro, a transfer student who played basketball in Puerto Rica last year, has made his presence felt in the paint the first month of the season.
The 6-foot-7, 215-pound sophomore forward/center scored 21 points and hauled in 15 rebounds in a win over Gastonia Ashbrook and has been a consistent double-figure scorer all season.
Toro enjoys playing basketball for the Blue Eagles and said the players, coaches and CHS students have made him feel accepted in Blue Eagle Country.
““I am working hard to improve my game and the team is working hard to compete,” said the towering post player after the South Pointe game. “I feel our best games are ahead of us in the region.”
Bailey lauded the Blue Eagle players for their effort and never-give-up attitude.
Concluded the CHS coach, “We are getting closer to playing a four- quarter game and if we can do that, I think we can play with anyone left on our schedule.”