CLOVER — Clover snowed under visiting Broome with an avalanche of three-pointers in a 75-56 win Friday night in the consolation semifinal of the Clover Optimist Classic.
Clover looked like a typical Bailey Jackson-coached squad, changing defenses sporadically and wearing down the opposition with periodic line changes, five players in, five players out. The Blue Eagles hit 10 three-pointers in the win, a bit uncharacteristic for them, but an effective route to victory all the same.
“They played a lot of zone and we got some open looks and we hit some of them,” Jackson said. “If we're gonna make them, we're gonna shoot them. That's one way to get them out of a zone.”
Four different players scored in double digits for the Blue Eagles, led by sophomore Bryce Allen's 12. Taylor Hoover and Jevon Blake each added 11, while Alex Thompson chipped in 10 to a balanced Blue Eagle offensive effort. Victor Smith led the Centurions with 16 points.
The win advanced the tournament's hosts to the consolation finals tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. against the rivals from down the road, the York Cougars.
“Clover and York, round one,” Jackson said, smiling.
Leading Broome 20-15, the Blue Eagles made their move in the second quarter, hitting six three-pointers during the eight-minute period. Allen scored all 12 of his points via trifecta during the decisive quarter. Alex Thompson got the Clover three-ball run moving with a triple to make it 23-15, before Allen hit three straight three-pointers, all the result of smart ball movement and/or cross-court skip-passing.
“He's gaining confidence,” Jackson said about Allen, a 6-foot-2 wing. “When he's confident, he can shoot with the best of them.”
Allen's third three-poiner made it 32-19, before Hoover got in on the act, nailing back-to-back threes as part of an 18-6 run that ballooned Clover's lead to 38-21. The Blue Eagles, playing in the school's dimly lit old gym reserved for the consolation bracket, led 44-27 at the half and Jackson's second team successfully maintained the big lead throughout the second half, much to the delight of the coach in his first year back at his alma mater.
“We're really young and really inexperienced,” said Jackson. “I'm trying to get those other guys some game experience over the holidays so they'll be ready to help us out. That group did a great job with our pressure, and learning to do it without fouling.”
If Clover had played Thursday against Indian Land the way it did against Broome on Friday, the Blue Eagles might have been contesting the tournament championship Saturday. But an eight-point loss to the Warriors illustrated the up-and-downs that Jackson's team, which only returned one player with a varsity start from last year's squad, will intermittently endure this season.
“Indian Land had a lot to do with it, they're a good team,” Jackson said. “We missed some chances; we weren't as aggressive as we were tonight. It just wasn't our night last night, and with a young team you'll have that.”
Clover: Ratwan Pitts 3, John Wilson 3, Jordan Hill 1, Jevon Blake 11, Taylor Hoover 11, Davis McCarter 7, Rae Armstrong 4, Bryce Allen 12, Alex Thompson 10, Arnaldo Toro 9, Ladarius Adams 4.
Broome: Smith 16, Palencia 6, Fick 2, Easler 6, Roper 6, Gory 4, Barnard 2, Dawkins 4, J. Jones 2, A. Jones 3, Green 3, Furnas 2.
3-point goals: Clover 10 (Allen 4, Blake 2, Hoover 2, McCarter, Thompson); Broome 5 (Roper 2, Palencia, Easler, Green).
Team fouls: Clover 18; Broome 16.
Free throws: Clover 15-29; Broome 15-29.