CLOVER — The Clover High School boys’ basketball team played winning basketball in December, and Friday was more of the same.
The Blue Eagles held on down the stretch to defeat visiting Nation Ford 42-38 in the Region 3-AAAA opener for both teams.
The Blue Eagles trailed 28-25 after three quarters, but held the upper hand in the fourth and decisive quarter.
Alex Thompson got things started with a three-pointer, knotting the score at 28-all. Later, with Clover trailing 34-31, John Wilson’s three-pointer made it 34-34.
Ladarius Adams scored, staking the Blue Eagles to a 36-34 lead. But Nation Ford answered, regaining the lead at 38-36 until Alex Thompson’s two free throws tied the game at 38-all.
Clutch free throw shooting by RJ Moore and Bryce Allen down the stretch sealed the win for the CHS boys.
Head coach Bailey Jackson labeled the game as ugly at times, but said he was pleased with the win nonetheless. “We’ve won five of six games,” Jackson said. “We have inexperienced players who are still learning the game.”
Jackson lauded the Blue Eagle players for finding a way to win. “I thought John Wilson stepped up tonight,” he said. “We held our opponent to 38 points and forced turnovers. I’ll take it.”
Wilson was all smiles after the game. “I wanted to step up,” he said. “I have confidence in my shot.”
Alex Thompson, who paced a balanced scoring attack with 9 points, lauded teammate Ratwan Pitts for stepping up in a hard-fought win.
“Running our plays and defensive hustle were the keys to beating Nation Ford tonight,” he said.
The teams traded baskets in a first quarter that ended with the score deadlocked at 11.
Thompson, junior pivot man Austin Stone and Aaron Miller scored key first quarter baskets for the Blue Eagles.
The CHS boys built a five-point lead in the second quarter, beginning with Pitts’ three-pointer to open the quarter.
Later, with the Blue Eagles trailing 15-14, Thompson’s basket pushed Clover ahead 16-15.
RJ Moore’s basket expanded the lead to 18-15 and Thompson’s tap-in built the lead to five points at 20-15.
Clover’s scoring totals: Alex Thompson, 9; RJ Moore, 8; John Wilson, 6; Bryce Allen, 5; Austin Stone, 5; Aaron Milner, 4; Ratwan Pitts, 3; and Ladarius Adams, 2.
The Blue Eagles defeated Spartanburg Christian 60-58 in the finals of the Battle of the Border Tournament Dec. 26 to 28 in Landrum.
Clover also defeated Boiling Springs and Woodruff, with Thompson and Allen receiving all-tournament recognition. Thompson averaged 19 points in the three games, with Allen averaging 17 points.