CLEVELAND — Cloverleaf boys basketball coach Jack Banks didn’t mince words at halftime, letting his players know how unhappy he was with their performance in the second quarter.
Small forward Nate Riley and point guard Cruz Severson took that message to heart.
Riley and Severson combined for 11 points, nine assists and four steals in a third quarter onslaught Monday, turning a tight game into a 68-43 non-league rout of Max Hayes.
The Colts carried a 26-21 lead into the break before outscoring the Lakers 32-12 in the third. Shooting guard Brycen Holliday had 12 of his game-high 19 points in the period, but the difference makers were sophomore Riley and junior Severson.
“Coach made it very clear that their little run in the second quarter shouldn’t have happened,” Riley said. “And we knew why it happened. Our defense really slipped after we got out to the big, early (17-3) lead.
“We went back to basics and used our strengths. We’re a big and long team — we start three guys 6-foot-2 or taller — and we like to use that length to our advantage.”
Cloverleaf used its size to snare attempted entry passes and its quickness to cut off passing lanes, turning five Max Hayes turnovers into 12 points in the first 3:11 of the third. Severson had three points, four assists and two steals during the blitz.
The 6-5 Riley finished with eight points, a career-high eight assists, three steals and two blocked shots, while Severson wound up with six points, six assists and six steals after both were very quiet before intermission.
Junior center Sylar Jones, who also stands 6-5, recorded 12 points, a team-best 12 rebounds and four rejections. Senior power forward Nick Bailey had 16 points, three assists and three steals for the Colts (1-1), who totaled 17 thefts and nine blocks.
“Our defense made our offense tonight, especially in the first and third quarters,” said Banks, whose squad dished out 26 assists on 27 baskets. “We implemented more of a three-quarter-court trap and got loose balls and steals and scored in transition, almost at will.
“It jumped out pretty quick, that’s for sure. I knew we were only up five at the half, but I looked up and all of a sudden, we were up 20.”
Cloverleaf, which was three days removed from a 65-46 loss to Rittman, took its largest lead of 29 on a Jones layup midway through the fourth.
Severson said memories of the Indians’ game loomed large after they started fast then faltered for the second straight contest.
“We came out really strong against Rittman (leading 22-17 after one quarter), but we didn’t finish the job,” he said. “That wasn’t going to happen this time. We love playing our style — getting steals, good ball movement — and letting our defense transition into offense. It was really fun watching everybody get involved at both ends.”
Power forward Eric Goodsane had 11 points and 12 rebounds for the Lakers (0-2), while point guard Jose Mendez scored 11 points. Small forward Andre Brooks added nine points and seven boards off the bench.
Max Hayes outrebounded the Colts 36-27, demonstrating great progress after a 90-31 loss at Dover in its opener.
- The Lakers were assessed a technical foul during warmups. As a result, the game began with Holliday shooting two free throws and the Colts retaining possession.
- Cloverleaf’s junior varsity was a 44-39 winner. Ashton Newton scored a game-high 16 points for the Colts.
Cloverleaf 68, Max Hayes 43
CLOVERLEAF 20 6 32 10 — 68
MAX HAYES 10 11 12 10 — 43
Cloverleaf — Nate Riley 2-3-8, Nick Bailey 8-0-16, Sylar Jones 6-0-12, Brycen Holliday 7-2-19, Cruz Severson 2-0-6, Matt Tanko 1-1-4, Tyler Webb 1-0-3, Logan Tierney 0-0-0, Colton Doss 0-0-0, Blake Benko 0-0-0, Drew Schreck 0-0-0, Ashton Newton 0-0-0. TOTALS: 27-6-68.
Max Hayes — Eric Goodsane 5-0-11, Johnny Santana 0-0-0, Cidney Johnson 1-0-2, Gilbert Bulux 0-1-1, Jose Mendez 4-1-11, Julian Spurlock 1-0-2, Sileye Djigo 2-1-5, Andre Brooks 3-3-9, Ezequiel DeValle 1-0-2. TOTALS: 17-6-43.
3-point goals — Holliday 3, Severson 2, Riley, Tanko, Webb, Mendez 2, Goodsane. Rebounds — Cloverleaf 27 (Jones 12), Max Hayes 36 (Goodsane 12). Assists — Cloverleaf 26 (Riley 8), Max Hayes 8 (Spurlock 3). Records — Cloverleaf (1-1), Max Hayes (0-2). Junior varsity — Cloverleaf 44, Max Hayes 39.