CLOVER -- Senior playmaking guard Alexander Wiley shares the excitement of his teammates following the Clover Blue Eagles' 53-51 conquest of Lakewood in the championship game of last week's Buford Invitational Basketball Tournament.
The Blue Eagles reached the title game by defeating host Buford and Eau Claire.
"Winning the tournament was a real confidence-builder," Wiley said. "All of the players were excited after the championship game."
Wiley said competing against good competition helps prepare the CHS team for Region 3-AAAA play.
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"You find out what you need to work on playing strong teams," he said. "You don't accomplish as much playing weak teams. We need to be challenged like we were in the Buford tournament."
Wiley said the Blue Eagles are aiming for a successful region run. He said he feels okay about his ball-handling and defensive play in early-season play.
"I am working to become a more consistent shooter," he said.
Three Clover players were named to the all-tournament team at the Buford event, led by 6-foot-3 senior R. J. Phillips, who had a double-double in the last two tournament games.
Phillips scored 10 points and pulled down 10 rebounds against Eau Claire and increased his offensive output with 19 points and 11 rebounds in the win over Lakewood.
Wiley and freshman Cody Bauer also were named to the all-tournament team.
"Our kids played hard in the Buford tournament," CHS head boys' coach Dudley Lybrand said of the confidence-building performance.
With five players on board from the football team, Lybrand said the Blue Eagles are still meshing together on the court.
"We're working to get everybody on the same page," he said. "We'll be facing good competition prior to the holiday break."
Top returning players include Deshawn Littlejohn, Josh Clawson, Lindsay, Wiley and Phillips, who's back from a neck injury sustained a year ago.
Top newcomers are Trenton Berry and Bauer.
Said Lybrand of the team's outlook for the 2008-09 season, "Our Goal is to improve from last year, make the playoffs, and finish the season on a high note. We will depend heavily on our guard play and pressure we are able to put on teams.
"Our guards will have to shoot it well also. If we improve as the year goes along, we have a chance to be competitive and make a run at a playoff berth."
The Blue Eagles began this week's play with double-header action at Ashbrook Monday and at home Tuesday against Hunter Huss. Those results will appear in next week's Enquirer-Herald.