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After falling behind rival York 12-4 in the first quarter last week, the Clover High School Blue Eagles turned the game around in the third quarter en route to a 42-35 win.
The Cougars expanded the lead to 16-5, but the visiting Clover contingent went to work in the second quarter as senior playmaking guard Taylor Hoover scored two key baskets, one off a steal.
The Blue Eagles trailed at halftime, but the margin was manageable at 19-13.
York maintained the lead for much of the third quarter until sophomore Bryce Allen’s basket put Clover ahead 25-24 with 2:55 left in the quarter.
The third quarter ended with a flurry of activity, including Allen’s clutch 3-pointer, extending Clover’s lead to 29-25, and 6-foot-7 sophomore Arnaldo Toro’s shot rejection to end the quarter.
Hoover stole the ball and scored to open the fourth quarter and Toro followed with a basket, pushing the lead to 33-27.
After York’s Daurice Simpson scored, Allen followed with a reverse layup in heavy traffic, much to the delight of Clover fans in attendance.
Later, Jevon Blake scored and the Blue Eagles were up 37-31 with less than two minutes remaining.
But the Cougars weren’t through as Lamin Yansaneh scored with less than a minute left, whittling the lead to 38-35.
Clover pushed the lead to 40-35 when Alex Thompson scored with 37.8 ticks left on the clock.
Toro and Ladarius Adams converted free throws to seal the win.
Blue Eagle head coach Bailey Jackson said defense made the difference in a low scoring game.
“Allen made some big shots and Adams had a strong defensive game,” he noted. “We executed the offense at crucial stages of the game.”
Said Allen after the game, “I was nervous at first but got into the flow of the game and shot the ball with confidence. The rivalry with York made it exciting.”
Toro paced the scoring for Clover with 10 points. Allen and Hoover each scored 8 points.
In earlier action last week, Northwestern used a 14-point run in the third quarter to break open a three-point game and defeat the Blue Eagles 66-46.
“We have kids that still lack experience at the varsity level,” observed Jackson after the game. “They are learning to get back on defense and things like that.”
Added Jackson, “We have several experienced players and others that have moved up to the varsity after competing at the jayvee level. The kids are working hard. There’s no lack of effort.”
Hoover, who led the scoring with 14 points, said he tries to lead by example as a senior team member.
“We need to step it up on the defensive end,” he said.
The Blue Eagles travel to South Pointe Friday for an 8 p.m. game with the Stallions.