CLOVER — With Alex Thompson and Bryce Allen leading the way, the host Clover Blue Eagles defeated Lancaster 59-50 in a key Region 3-AAAA game Saturday at the CHS gym.
The win was a rebound for Clover from a Friday-night loss to the Nation Ford Falcons, 50-44.
In the Lancaster game Saturday, Thompson led the scoring for Clover with 18 points. Allen had 17 points as the Blue Eagles assumed control early in the game and never trailed.
Blue Eagles head coach Bailey Jackson said, “The kids played well and are still learning.”
“I was proud of the effort,” Jackson said.
Jackson said he is not surprised when Thompson delivers in the clutch. “We expect Alex to take charge in those situations,” he said.
Thompson, for his part, said he doesn’t mind having the ball in his hands at crunch time. “Coach asked me to provide leadership when the season began,” said Thompson.
“We want to continue winning and see if we can get back into the playoff mix,” Thompson said. “The key to continued success is to play hard and to play good defense.”
The Blue Eagles took charge early against Lancaster, with Austin Stone scoring the first basket, followed by Allen’s 3-pointer for a 5-0 lead.
After Lancaster closed the gap to 5-3, Allen and Stone scored consecutive baskets to push the lead to 9-3.
Moments later, Allen scored on a crowd-pleasing finger roll, Ladarius Adams added a free throw and Mark Cavanaugh scored, staking the Clover team to a 15-6 advantage to start the second quarter.
The teams fought on near-even terms in the second quarter, with Lancaster’s buzzer-beater slicing the lead to six, 25-19, to end the first half.
The third quarter was more of the same, with the teams trading baskets for much of the quarter. Clover expanded its lead to 34-24 midway through the quarter on a free throw by R.J. Moore.
After Lancaster trimmed the lead to six in the final stages of the third quarter, Noah Lindsay’s buzzer-beater pushed the lead to 41-33 entering the fourth quarter.
The Blue Eagles maintained an eight-point lead after Thompson scored on a twisting shot in the lane and drew a foul, making it 49-41.
Lancaster then began pecking away. After the Bruins cut the lead to a scant three points at 49-46, a pair of free throws by Allen pushed the lead back to five.
After Lancaster sliced the lead to three, Lindsay answered with a scoring drive. Clutch free-throw shooting down the stretch by Thompson and Allen sealed the win for the Blue Eagles.
The Blue Eagles competed Saturday with little rest, after losing the closely contested game to Nation Ford on Friday on the road.
Thompson made his presence felt against Nation Ford by scoring a game-high 24 points. John Wilson was next with 12 points for Clover, followed by Allen with 6.
The Blue Eagles return to region action Friday, hosting Fort Mill at 8 p.m. The girls’ game will start at 6:30 p.m.
Continuing Region 3-AAAA play, the next game for the Blue Eagles will be at Rock Hill on Tuesday. The Clover teams close out the regular season Feb. 14 at York.