The Clover Blue Eagles have been building momentum over the past few weeks, most recently notching a win over Northwestern to get their 3-AAAA region schedule off to a fast start.
But Friday night, they played a motivated Rock Hill squad which was looking to make a statement after the Bearcats began their region schedule with an 18-point loss to Gaffney. The result was a 61-47 Bearcats rout that proved Rock Hill will play a major factor in games to come as the playoff picture takes shape.
With the win, the Bearcats move to 14-2 on the season.
"We had a tough loss against Gaffney, but we kept fighting and didn't quit regardless of the score," said Rock Hill coach Eric Rollings. "My squad worked hard all week in practice after the loss and it showed out there tonight against a tough Clover team."
Clover has found success this season with streaky perimeter shooting and stingy defense, but the Bearcats stifled both from the opening minutes of the first quarter. Rock Hill's size advantage was apparent throughout the game, as the Bearcats' frontcourt contested every shot attempt and generally made life difficult for Clover from the field.
Most importantly, Rock Hill found a way to stop Clover forward Cody Bauer, the team's leading scorer and offensive centerpiece. Utilizing a rotation of shooting guards Jamel Jones and Eduardo Minuci, Rock Hill kept Bauer off balance the entire game, holding him to a team-high seven points on 3 of 8 shooting.
"Cody shoots extremely well and is a threat every time he touches the ball," Rollings said. "We focused on trying to limit him early, and to be able to stop a scorer like him is tremendous."
On offense, it was Minuci and forward Jaylen Reid that carried the load, as the two combined for 32 points and six of the team's seven made shots from beyond the 3-point arc. The Bearcats' lead over Clover swelled to 20 points in the third quarter, where it remained for the majority of the game.
After the game, Rollings discussed the challenges for his team, which currently holds a top-10 ranking in the state along with fellow 3-AAAA region teams Lancaster and Gaffney.
"I've always said that we are part of the toughest region in the state," he said. "Because of that, every single one of our in-region games is vital to our success, so this was a huge bounce-back win for us."
Rock Hill 61, Clover 41
Clover -- Cody Bauer 7 Jevon Blake 7 Dreki Williams 7 Alex Thompson 5 Devin Adams 4 Aaron Fielder 4 Ryan Stollar 3 Ashleyn Thomason 2 Taylor Hoover 2 LaDarius Adams 2 Ta Long 1
Rock Hill --Jaylen Reid 20 Eduardo Minuci 12 Deonte Flemming 8 Jamel Jones 5 Montez McCullough 4 Dre Williams 3 Jaleel Scott 3 Malik Crawford 2 Eric Robinson 2 Warren Vinson 2
3-pointers -- Clover 2 (Bauer, #40), Rock Hill 7 (Minuci 4, Reid 2, Williams). Team fouls -- Clover 8, Rock Hill 16. Fouled out -- None
Records: Rock Hill 14-2, Region 1-1; Clover 9-7, Region 1-1