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The Clover High School Lady Blue Eagles came out strong to start the game, then held off Fort Mill in the fourth quarter Friday to win a crucial Region 3-AAAA game on the road.
The CHS girls prevailed 46-43, taking advantage of the early start to withstand the Lady Jackets’ final push.
Head coach Sherer Hopkins said defensive tenacity becomes the difference-maker when the game is closely-contested.
“We’ve been placing much emphasis on our defensive play as the region schedule winds down,” said Hopkins. “Our defensive effort enabled us to hold on for the win against Fort Mill.”
Though the Lady Yellow Jackets outscored Clover 14-9 in the fourth quarter, playing with renewed defensive intensity pushed the Lady Blue Eagles over the top.
The visitors from Blue Eagle Country came out sizzling in the first quarter, with sophomore post player Elizabeth Edmunds doing much of the damage.
Edmunds scored 11 of her game-high 20 points in the opening stanza. With Fort Mill missing its first nine shots and the CHS girls clicking on all cylinders, Clover led 15-0 at one point and built an 18-7 first-quarter lead.
But the Lady Jackets fought back behind senior mainstay Rae Lynch as the first half ended with Clover ahead 28-24.
The Lady Blue Eagles expanded the lead to 37-29 in the third quarter before Fort Mill spurted again, slicing the lead to a single point in the waning moments of the game.
But the Lady Blue Eagles were equal to the challenge, converting crucial free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
With Edmunds leading the scoring barrage with 20 points, teammate Sydney Sanders also finished in double figures with 11 points.
Rounding out the scoring, emerging point producer Ryehia Robbins scored 9 points; Ashia Good, 4; and senior floor leader Aaliyah Knox, 2.
Clover had five three-pointers for the game, with Edmunds nailing three and Sanders finding the range on two from three-point land.
The Lady Blue Eagles close out the regular season, hosting rival York Friday, beginning with girls jayvee action at 5 p.m.
The girls varsity game will begin at 6:30 p.m., with the boys game to conclude the triple-header at 8 p.m.
“York is a rivalry game our kids look forward to,” Hopkins said.
In addition to the appeal of rivalry game, Friday’s girls battle will help determine the Lady Blue Eagles’ playoff seeding next week.