With approximately 24 points out of the lineup, Clover coach Dudley Lybrand had to come up with a strategy to muster enough offense in Friday's key Region 3-AAAA contest against Northwestern.
Without the offense of missing starters Cody Bauer and Xavier Wylie, who were out with an injury and school trip, respectively, the Eagles instead relied on solid defense.
That proved to be just enough to edge the Trojans, 42-38, in a physical, half-court dominated contest.
The Blue Eagle defense limited Northwestern to only six fourth-quarter points, including two key defensive stops within the final minute to preserve the win.
"Both teams were playing very physical," Lybrand said. "I told our guys that this was going to be a doggie-dog game and there would be times that you were going to be fouled, but it was not going to be called. It was that way for both teams.
"Defensively, I felt that we had the advantage with our bigs on the inside. We may have not had the size advantage, but we had the edge with our quickness."
With the score tied, 32-32, after three quarters, the Blue Eagles got consecutive interior hoops from Darian Harris. Forward Ashleyn Thomason connected on one-of-two free throws for a 38-34 advantage with 2:43 remaining.
Northwestern responded with center Rontavious McClure grabbing a missed shot and scoring on an offensive rebound. On the next Trojan possession, guard Montrece Caldwell drove the lane for a layup to tie the score at 38.
The Trojan defense forced a five-second violation and regained possession, but Clover answered with a steal underneath with 1:05 remaining. Following a timeout, the Blue Eagles burned the clock with a patient passing attack, before finding Harris underneath for a layup with 31 seconds remaining.
Northwestern attempted to tie or take the lead with a three-point shot, but Harris and McClure both had hands on the rebound, resulting in a jump ball with the possession arrow pointing to Clover.
Clover guard Aaron Miller took the inbound pass and was fouled with 14.3 seconds remaining. Miller sank both attempts to increase the lead to four. The Eagle defense forced two missed Trojan shots as time expired.
"The difference was that Clover got to more loose balls and we missed too many open shots," Northwestern coach Mike Gossett said. "Every time that you play Clover, you have to be very efficient with offensive possessions. They are very good."
Clover improves to 4-1 in the region, tied with Gaffney for the league's top spot. The Eagles will play Gaffney tonight with the winner grabbing first-place.
Northwestern -- Jontae McMillan 3, LaThomas Long 9, Jalen Orr 4, Montrece Caldwell 4,Keith Bell 5, Julius Durham 3, Rontavious McClure 10.
Clover -- Aaron Miller 9, Taylor Hoover 4, Devin Adams 3, Darius Harris 9, Darian Harris 9, Ashleyn Thomason 8.
3-pointers -- Northwestern 2 (Long 1, Durham 1), Clover 2 (Darian Harris 1, Miller 1). Team fouls -- Northwestern 14, Clover 9. Fouled out -- None
Records: Northwestern 11-10, 3-3 Region 3-AAAA; Clover 14-4, 4-1.