Playing tough opponents will help prepare the Clover High School boys’ basketball team for Region III-AAAA, coach Bailey Jackson said.
Such was the case when Clover lost 58-49 last week to Ashbrook in Gastonia.
“Ashbrook is the best team we’ve played this year,” said Jackson. “We carried out the game plan. There were times when a lack of execution and missed free throws worked against us.”
Though he was disappointed in the loss, Jackson said he was pleased with the effort.
“We closed the gap in the fourth quarter after falling behind by nine points,” he said. “I am proud of our kids.”
Consecutive baskets by senior mainstays RJ Moore and Bryce Allen sliced Ashbrook’s lead to four at 44-40 with five minutes left in the game.
“We played well at times and had trouble at the free throw line,” said Allen.
“I didn’t feel my rhythm tonight, but it happens,” Allen said. “There will be other games when the shots will fall.”
Allen said the team’s scheduled has prepared the players for region play. “We have the team to get it done,” he said.
With Aaron Milner and John Wilson contributing, the Blue Eagles led 25-20 midway through the second quarter.
With Clover trailing 29-26 moments before the half, Moore hit another clutch shot, slicing the lead to a single point at 29-28.
The teams traded baskets in the final seconds of the half, with Ashbrook taking a 31-30 lead.
“Ashbrook has more talent than some of the teams in our region,” Jackson said. “Playing a tough schedule makes us better.”
The Blue Eagles also lost 47-43 to Hunter Huss Friday.
The Blue Eagles play at region foe Nation Ford at 8 p.m. Friday.