With a youth-oriented lineup, including freshmen and sophomores in key roles, the Clover High School girls’ basketball team has had its moments in Region 3-AAAA play.
With senior floor leaders Elizabeth Edmunds and Sydney Sanders making their presence felt at both ends of the floor, the Lady Blue Eagles have fought their way through the ups and downs of a rebuilding season.
The CHS girls step out of the region Friday when they host Shelby at 6 p.m. in the high school’s main gym.
Coach Bailey Jackson’s Blue Eagle basketball team will battle the Shelby boys in the second game of the Friday double-header at 7:30 p.m.
The Clover girls ran into a Gaffney team firing on all cylinders on the road Friday, with the Lady Indians prevailing, 55-29.
The Lady Blue Eagles were within striking distance at halftime, trailing by a dozen points at 22-10. But the Lady Indians were able to pull away in the second half to chalk up the region win before the home fans.
It was a different story earlier in the week, when the Lady Blue Eagles rallied behind playmaking guard Sanders, freshman Renee Carter and senior mainstay Edmunds to defeat Nation Ford 51-48 in a barnburner.
Sanders finished the game with seven 3-pointers, to the delight of the CHS home crowd.
With Clover trailing by a single point in the final seconds, Carter scored on a put back to put the Lady Blue Eagles up by one.
She was fouled on the play, but missed the free throw. Edmunds grabbed the rebound and scored, sealing the win for the Clover team.
Lady Blue Eagle head coach Sherer Hopkins talked about the team’s youth movement.
“We have some very talented young people who are getting to play this season,” she said. “We also have talented players on our JV team. The future looks really bright for Clover basketball.”
Hopkins said the CHS girls still have the second half of the season to go in the region.
“We’ve come close several times,” said Hopkins, “We need to get a few of those victories the second time around.”
Hopkins gets right to the point when the conversation shifts to always-tough Region 3-AAAA.
“It’s extremely competitive in our region,” she said. “And that’s what you want. Day in and day out, you never know.”
Hopkins is aware of the balance in the local 4A region from top to bottom each year.
“Anybody can beat anybody,” she said. “There’s some extreme talent in the region. It’s a lot of fun to be in this region with the coaches and players.”
Among the prime contributors from the young players has been sophomore guard Taylor Morneault, who made her presence felt at the varsity level all season.
“We’re working hard and practicing hard, trying to dig ourselves out of a hole at times,” she said. “It’s a matter of keeping up with everything that we do.”
Said Morneault: “We have to kinda change our game a little bit. Our game’s gonna be changed a lot next year with the players returning and more practices with each other, that sort of thing.”
The 5-foot-5 bundle of energy said she has no second thoughts about the phase of the game that appeals to her most.
“I love to play defense,” said Morneault. “You’ve got to play defense and create opportunities for our team to score”
While this year’s team is showing constant improvement, Hopkins lauds the players’ undeniable commitment to what’s best for the team.
“”It’s a great group to coach,” Hopkins said. “They work hard and have fun; they do the right thing. That just makes it more fun for us as coaches to deal with.”
The Lady Blue Eagles played at Fort Mill Tuesday night after the Enquirer-Herald deadline. The results of Tuesday’s games will be online at enquirerherald.com and on next week’s sports page.