2016-03-08 / Front Page

Cloverdale Wins Back-To-Back 2A Sectional Titles; Set To Battle Northeastern In Regional Opener

by Brent Ranard
for The Hoosier Topics


2016 Sectional 44 class 2A champions. 
(Photo by Brent Ranard) 2016 Sectional 44 class 2A champions. (Photo by Brent Ranard) Coach Patrick Rady and the Cloverdale Clovers knew this year’s sectional would be a dogfight and they prepared to play three tough opponents all season long pointing to March to peak. They were not disappointed as they went the long route to claim the school’s second IHSAA class 2A sectional championship in as many years, defeating the Monrovia Bulldogs 59-53 in the title game on Saturday.

The road to the finals was rugged as they beat a pesky North Putnam team on Tuesday 70-46 after trailing 12-2 early in the first quarter.

Friday night, in the semifinals, it was a matchup with the South Putnam Eagles and the Clovers had to put together a huge fourth quarter for a 65-48 come-from-behind win.

Cloverdale held a slim 21-20 lead at the half but the Eagles came out of the locker room hot and took their biggest lead of the game 26-23. Junior Cooper Neese started to take over at that point and he and the Clovers went on a 14-4 run to lead 37-30 heading into the final quarter.


The Cloverdale crowd was large and loud Saturday night and helped cheer their Clovers to the 2016 class 2A sectional championship. (Photo by Brent Ranard) The Cloverdale crowd was large and loud Saturday night and helped cheer their Clovers to the 2016 class 2A sectional championship. (Photo by Brent Ranard) Neese showed why he is one of the top juniors in the state by scoring 12 straight points to start the fourth quarter. He started the run by stealing the ball and gliding coast to coast for a huge one hand slam dunk. He had a second dunk sandwiched between two long three-pointers and capped with two from the charity stripe.

Rady was not surprised by the play of Neese at crunch time. “Great players make great plays at crucial moments,” he said, “That is the way it is supposed to be at tournament time. When Cooper can get a little space to work he is pretty tough to stop.”

The Clovers outscored the Eagles 28-18 in that decisive fourth quarter to secure the 65-48 victory and claim a spot in Saturday night’s championship game.


Seniors and team captains accept the championship trophy. Pictured are, left to right: senior Brenan Hall, captain Cooper Neese, senior Robert Nally, and captain Jalen Moore. (Photo by Brent Ranard) Seniors and team captains accept the championship trophy. Pictured are, left to right: senior Brenan Hall, captain Cooper Neese, senior Robert Nally, and captain Jalen Moore. (Photo by Brent Ranard) Neese scored 25 of his game-high 39 points in the second half. Sophomores Jalen Moore and Nick Winders each added 11 points for the Clovers. Parker Watts and Seth Pfaff had two points apiece.

The Eagles were led in scoring by their talented freshman Alan Plunkett who finished with 24 points.

“South Putnam controlled the tempo of the game,” Rady commented. “I thought they did a good job of making us play their style especially in the first three quarters. For us we want to push the ball up the floor. We want to get it and go. We finally got that going some in the fourth quarter.”


Cloverdale’s Patrick Rady celebrates his first sectional championship as a head coach by cutting down the nets. (Photo by Brent Ranard) Cloverdale’s Patrick Rady celebrates his first sectional championship as a head coach by cutting down the nets. (Photo by Brent Ranard) The Bulldogs made the final game with a thrilling 49-47 win over the host Southmont Mounties on Friday night in a game in which they trailed the whole contest except when it counted.

In the championship game Cloverdale brought a big and loud contingent to cheer them on. The crowd, which was at least two to one in favor of the Clovers, was not disappointed in the least.

Cloverdale got out to a great start taking a 15-5 lead at the end of the first quarter. Neese had eight of those points on a couple of three-pointers and a lay- up. Moore chipped in five and Pfaff added two on a rebound basket.

“(Neese) loves March,” Rady said. “If you look back, I think he’s played great every game in March in his career. But what may get overlooked, I thought he did a great job defensively against (Monrovia’s Luke) Smith. I thought Jalen was back to the old Jalen. He made some great reads on ball screens and handled the ball well.”


Cloverdale’s Seth Pfaff prepares to put back an offensive rebound against South Putnam on Friday night. (Photo by Brent Ranard) Cloverdale’s Seth Pfaff prepares to put back an offensive rebound against South Putnam on Friday night. (Photo by Brent Ranard) The Bulldogs cut into the lead in the second quarter when Smith, who was held scoreless in the first quarter, netted seven points. The Cloverdale lead was eight at intermission, 26-18.

Any hope of pulling away in the third quarter was thwarted by a scrappy bunch of Bulldogs. The Bulldogs outscored the Clovers 21-15 in the third and CHS only held a 41-39 point lead after three quarters.

Monrovia finally gained the lead with about six minutes left in the contest, 42- 41, on a long three-pointer by senior John Williams. The only lead in the game by the Bulldogs didn’t last for long. Moore took the ball immediately up the court, pushing at the pace Rady said he wanted, and scored a lay-up seconds after Monrovia earned the one-point lead. Moore then picked up a foul and distanced the Clovers even more on the scoreboard with two foul shots.


Father and son share an emotional moment at the conclusion of the sectional championship game. Pat Rady, Sr. congratulates Patrick Rady, Jr. (Photo by Brent Ranard) Father and son share an emotional moment at the conclusion of the sectional championship game. Pat Rady, Sr. congratulates Patrick Rady, Jr. (Photo by Brent Ranard) It was back-and-forth down the stretch. Winders scored his only points of the game on a huge three-point basket off of a beautifully designed out of bounds play where the whole pack of Bulldogs went with Neese and left Winders wide open in the corner. That gave the Clovers a six-point lead with 1:23 to play.

Senior Brenan Hall came up with a huge block on the defensive end and Moore and Neese sealed it from the charity stripe so the celebration could begin.


Senior Brenan Hall gets his piece of the net Saturday night after the sectional championship. Hall had a huge block in the final minute of the game and added four points. (Photo by Brent Ranard) Senior Brenan Hall gets his piece of the net Saturday night after the sectional championship. Hall had a huge block in the final minute of the game and added four points. (Photo by Brent Ranard) Rady noted the play of Hall in the tournament. “Brenan started the season in the starting lineup,” Rady said. “In the middle part of the season he lost the starting job to a fresh- man. He could’ve folded his tent but he didn’t. Then when Jake Wilkes was sick this week, Brenan stepped up last night and tonight. You never know when you’ve got to be ready. A lot of kids would’ve gotten mad, not Brenan. He shined in the sectional and that shows a lot of character in person.”

Moore had a monster night scoring a game-high 26 points including going 11-of-14 from the free throw line. Hall and Pfaff added four points each. Winders had three and Wilkes two.


Cooper Neese, head coach Patrick Rady, and assistant coach Jerry Neese (left to right) share some time with the sectional trophy. (Photo by Brent Ranard) Cooper Neese, head coach Patrick Rady, and assistant coach Jerry Neese (left to right) share some time with the sectional trophy. (Photo by Brent Ranard) The Bulldogs were led by Smith with 15 points. Luke Seber added 12 and Williams had 10 to reach double-digits.

A very emotional Rady reflected back on his childhood after the game. “Ever since I was a little boy and we wrote down our goals in grade school I have wanted to be a basketball coach,” he recalled, “I have wanted to win a sectional championship. I have been to the finals twice before this so I guess the third time is the charm.”

He went on to add, “I am so proud of these kids and what they have accomplished this season. They have been resilient, worked very hard, and been a pleasure to coach. I just want to thank my wife and daughter for allowing me to do this. We have a saying, ‘It’s a family.’ Our house is a family. My wife and daughter have sacrificed. They open the house and they love the kids. But I’m gone a lot and I’m blessed for them to be as supportive as they are. My wife really, she’s my rock. She sends me scriptures daily and I couldn’t do it without her.”


Team captains Cooper Neese (left) and Jalen Moore pose with the sectional championship trophy after the game. (Photo by Brent Ranard) Team captains Cooper Neese (left) and Jalen Moore pose with the sectional championship trophy after the game. (Photo by Brent Ranard) He was also thankful for the support of the Clover faithful. “This Cloverdale community has been behind us the whole way,” he said. “Our kids are so proud to put on the uniform and play for this school.”

The elder coach Pat Rady, who led the Clovers to the sectional title just one year ago, was equally excited for his son Patrick. “I was so nervous,” the former Clover coach said. “I know how much he (Patrick) wanted to win. I am so proud of the way he has coached this team this year. From where they started the year, going from Putnam County champs to the sectional title, we’re so proud of him. We are proud of both our sons. Seeing (Patrick) go up that ladder and get that sectional champs’ net, I can’t explain it.”

Cloverdale (18-7) will next play against Northeastern (22-4) in the IHSAA Greenfield-Central regional semifinal in game one on Saturday, March 12, at 10 a.m. Northeastern won the Hagerstown sectional by defeating Centerville (7-15) in the championship game, 68-43.

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