CLOVER — The Clover Blue Eagles fell behind York by as many as 18 points before staging a furious rally with less than two minutes left in the game.
But the host Cougars held on, converting crucial free throws to win 69-58 on Monday. The game, played before a noisy crowd in the YCHS gym, was closely contested in the first half. York led 15-14 to open the second quarter.
After the Cougars expanded the lead to 21-14, a three-point shot by Noah Lindsey and a pair of free throws by Alex Thompson pulled the Blue Eagles within two at 21-19.
The host Cougars found some offensive punch in the waning moments of the second quarter to lead 27-20 at the half. The Cougars had the upper hand in the third quarter, expanding the lead to 46-29.
The YCHS boys maintained a double-digit lead for much of the fourth quarter.
With York up 54-41, Clover junior sharpshooter Bryce Allen nailed a three-pointer and drew a foul in the process to the delight of Blue Eagle fans.
Allen converted the free throw for a four-point play.
Later, with York ahead 59-50, Allen made a pair of free throws and teammate John Wilson converted a free throw, slicing the Cougars’ lead to 59-53.
Allen, who scored all of his points in the fourth quarter, followed with a reverse layup and York’s lead was 59-55 with 1:28 left in the game.
The Cougars converted clutch free throws when the Blue Eagles were forced to foul and sealed the win down the stretch.
Wilson paced Clover in scoring with 12 points. Allen finished with 9 points and Thompson had 7.
CHS head coach Bailey Jackson said the Blue Eagles had eight misses at the rim in the second quarter.
“York pulled away in the third quarter and our kids rallied down the stretch,” he said. “Our kids never give up,” declared Jackson. “They could’ve quit ( lost intensity) several weeks ago but stayed with it.”
Jackson talked about the team’s youth and inexperience when the season began. “Our kids improved defensively and mentally during the season,” he said.