Enquirer Herald

Defending champ Blue Eagles embrace challenge

The Clover High School boys’ basketball team is ready to defend its Region 3-AAAA championship.

Picked to finish sixth this past season, instead the Blue Eagles captured the title.

The Blue Eagles host Nation Ford at 8 p.m. Friday.

“Nation Ford’s got a lot of talent,” said head coach Bailey Jackson, the architect of Clover’s emergence in the region. “They have a great athlete back from the North-South football game and shooting guard Cameron Holmes. They’ve got a freshman kid that’s the next Michael Jordon. They struggled early in the year for some reason. We know them and they know us, so we’ll be ready to go.”

Jackson has seen some positive results for his Blue Eagle contingent.

“We’ve got to shoot the ball better. We’re better defensively than I thought we were gonna be, but we’ve got to shoot the ball a little bit better. We’ve got to balance out the scoring,” he said.

Jackson looks for the region to be highly competitive once again.

“We played Gaffney this summer,” he said. “We were a little short-handed and they beat us pretty good. They don’t have the size they used to have. Fort Mill’s really good, a hard team to match up with. They can shoot it and drive it. They don’t have a great deal of size, but we don’t either.”

Blue Eagle seniors Noah Lindsay and Justin White are proud of Clover’s status as defending champs.

“We have to have the confidence to do what we need to do to stay on top,” Lindsay said.

White knows the Blue Eagles have a target on their back this season.

“Coach reminds us all the time,” he said. “It’s a lot of added pressure compared to last year, when we got picked sixth in the region and ended up winning it.

“Coach Jackson reminds us that each player has a specific role. As long as everybody carries out their role, we have a chance to do some great things,” White said.

Though Clover lost 61-59 in overtime at Charlotte Latin Friday, the Blue Eagles had their moments in the game.

“We were up 17, 18 points going into the fourth quarter,” said Jackson. “We missed a bunch of free throws down the stretch and they hit a bunch of shots. They are a very talented team. They were as good as anybody we’ve played in a long time.”

Jackson said the down-to-the-wire game at Charlotte Latin prepares the Blue Eagles for region play.

“We want to be challenged,” Jackson said. “We played as good as any team I’ve coached, ever, in the second and third quarter, especially defensively. We were as good defensively in the second and third quarter of that game as we can be.”

Jackson’s philosophy for perfection: “You’ve got to go in there and give it all you got physically, mentally and fundamentally.”

He knows the Blue Eagles aren’t without weapons.

“We have a pretty special player in Quise Robbins,” he said. “Quise is averaging 22 and a half points a game. He’s already shot over 50 free throws in five games. Aaron Milner’s pretty special, too.”

Robbins paced the scoring in the narrow loss to Charlotte Latin with 24 points. Milner was next with 11 points and White had 8.