The Clover girls basketball team hit the same dead end - the same Dutch Fork, in this instance - in the Class 4A girls basketball tournament road.
The Blue Eagles' banner season came to a close with a 61-33 loss to the Silver Foxes on Tuesday. Dutch Fork (25-3) faces Dorman (24-2) in the Upper State championship 7 p.m. Friday at the Bi-Lo Center.
Last season, the Silver Foxes Fork routed Clover (21-5) in a 79-27 blowout in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs. This one proved a little closer, but with the same result.
"They have a real talented team and we knew that coming in," Clover coach Sherer Hopkins said. "They are very hard to defend."
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Dutch Fork, an experienced tournament team, committed just one turnover in the first quarter and relied on a decided advantage in the post to build a quick lead.
Alaina Coates, an imposing 6-foot-5 center, proved the building block. She scored 10 of Dutch Fork's first 12 points. Coates finished with a game-high 26 points on 11-of-13 shooting, including 18 points in the first half.
"The girls stayed focused," Dutch Fork coach Faye Norris said. "The inside game was the best game for us tonight, and that's what we stuck with."
That's not to say the Blue Eagles didn't have a little fun in front of the home crowd. Clover cut the lead to 18-9 when Bria Huffman blocked a three-point shot by Shelby Curtis and went coast to coast for a layup.
Huffman, an Appalachian State commit, scored 13 in the first half despite constant help and double teams. She led the Blue Eagles with 15 points.
Dutch Fork responded with a 10-0 punch to start the second quarter, however, and the lead swelled to 34-16 by halftime. Clover shot just 3-of-16 in the second period. The Silver Foxes slowed down the tempo in the second half to maintain the commanding lead. Dutch Fork committed just 10 turnovers.
"It has gotten better for us over the course of the season," Norris said of the turnovers. "That's something we've really zoomed in on."Despite the loss, Hopkins emphasized the positives afterward. The Blue Eagles won Region 3 with a perfect 10-0 record, just two years after finishing 0-10 in the same region.
Clover loses Huffman, Logan Ballard and Haley Collins to graduation.
"This group of kids exceeded all expectations," Hopkins said. "I couldn't be more proud of these seniors. When you go three rounds deep in the 4A girls tournament, you can't say that's a bad season."
DUTCH FORK 61, CLOVER 33
Dutch Fork ‹ Ky'aire Daniels 6, Zhane Green 2, Rose Robinson 7, Donnesha Shuler 8, Sydney Shull 8, Shelby Curtis 2, Alaina Coates 26, Audra Snipe 2.
Clover ‹ Aaliyah Knox 5, Telliya Patton 6, Bria Huffman 15, Lauren Richardson 2, Ryehia Robbins 3, Brooke Rhinehardt 2.
3-pointers ‹ Clover 3 (Huffman 1, Knox 1, Robbins 1). Team fouls ‹Dutch Fork 8, Clover 19. Records: Dutch Fork (25-3), Clover (21-5)