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Clover wills Prep past LaSalle in triple-OT thriller

02/08/2014, 1:00am EST
By Ari Rosenfeld

Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
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Chris Clover (above, against Bishop McDevitt) had 37 points in a triple-overtime win against LaSalle HS on Sunday. (Photo: Josh Einbinder-Schatz)

Ari Rosenfeld (@realA_rosenfeld)
--

St. Joe's Prep coach William "Speedy" Morris never doubted his team.

Not when outside expectations were low entering the season, with the Hawks returning just one player with meaningful varsity experience.

Not when Prep trailed archrival LaSalle College HS by double digits in the first half and seemingly had no answer for the Explorers' attack.

Not even when the Hawks were down six with just under two minutes remaining after fighting back to force double overtime against LaSalle.

It’s easy to be so confident when you have Chris Clover on your team.

Clover was simply dominant for The Prep in its final game of the regular season, scoring 37 points-- 30 of them after halftime--to defeat LaSalle, 79-74, in a an instant-classic, triple-overtime game.

“It’s great to have a Chris Clover. People asked me at the beginning of the year, ‘Who do you have?’ and I said, ‘Chris Clover and four students,’” said Morris. “The four students turned out to be pretty good players, but Chris Clover’s they key.

“He was terrific. He proved why he’s one of the best players in the city, and he took over the game."

A true shooting guard who is forced to do most of his work inside for the undersized Hawks, Clover overcame a slow start and was unstoppable throughout most of the second half and all three overtime sessions, showcasing the offensive arsenal that allowed him to be the Catholic League's leading scorer at nearly 22 points per game.

Everyone in the gym-- which was packed to the brim-- knew who was getting the ball on every possession, but the Explorers simply couldn’t do anything to slow him down. Even after LaSalle tried putting bigger defenders on him, the Saint Joseph’s-bound guard continued to will his way to the rim, finishing inside and getting to the line seemingly anytime he wanted.

“I struggled in the beginning but I kept my composure and I continued to shoot the ball, and I wasn’t letting the defense dictate my game,” Clover said. “I was just playing, to be honest. I was just playing, trying to help my team win. That’s all I was thinking about. I wanted to beat LaSalle of course. We had our fans over there, our support, so I just wanted to get that W.”

While Clover kept the Hawks in it throughout the game, the finishing touch came from the most unlikely of sources.

Junior forward Chris Montie entered the game for the first time when starting center Pete Gayhardt fouled out in the first overtime. His presence on the floor wasn’t too noticeable, as he fought hard defensively, battled for rebounds, and let Clover go to work on the offensive end.

However, with LaSalle holding a one-point advantage in the final minute of the third overtime, Clover drove to the basket, got a good look near the rim, but his attempt rimmed out. Not to fear, Montie was there to scoop up the loose ball after his defender had left to help on Clover, and finished the layup to put the Hawks ahead; LaSalle would not score for the rest of the game.

“I saw Chris drive through the lane like he’s been doing all night, and I just knew if he missed I had to be there, and I put it back up and it went in,” Montie said. “You’ve just got to keep your head in the game open the bench, stay into it, and when your number’s called you’ve got to get in there and perform.”

Prep did not get its first lead until early in the fourth quarter, after trailing by as much as 12 early, when reserve guard Mark Scarlett knocked down his second three of the game to make it a 40-39 advantage. The teams would go back-and-forth from there, with neither team leading by more than four points in the quarter and the score being tied five times.

After one of those ties, at 55-55, LaSalle’s Najee Walls converted a floater in the lane that looked like it would give the Explorers the win. With just one second remaining, however, Clover was fouled in the backcourt; LaSalle was in the double bonus, and he calmly knocked down both free throws to extend the game.

“When I got to the line I was just like, ‘Alright, I’m gonna make these,’” Clover said. “In my mind, I’m like, ‘I’ve gotta make these.’ That’s all that was going through my head. I’m just being confident, I’m not putting no doubt in my mind, so I just wanted to be confident and make the shots.”

The first overtime ended with Prep’s Jack McGovern making one of two free throws to tie the game with six seconds left, before LaSalle’s Dan Corr missed a jumper at the buzzer.

In the second extra session, it looked again like the Explorers would hold on for the win. Colgate-bound forward Dave Krmpotich scored the first five points of the period, giving LaSalle a 68-63 lead with 2:31 remaining.

Just like he had all game, though, Clover responded, going on a personal 8-2 run consisting of a three-- his first of the game--a contested long-two, and an and-one layup to tie the game at 71 with just 22 seconds remaining.

“I wasn’t thinking 3-point play, I was just trying to get a bucket,” Clover said. “Coach said that [Krmpotich], he always goes for the pump fake, so I was just trying to pump fake, get into his body and try to get the foul.”

Krmpotich would miss a good look from the left block, sending the game to a third overtime.

Although Clover stole the show, Walls and Krmpotich did everything they could to will the Explorers to victory. They finished with 27 and 22 points, respectively, including all but seven of LaSalle’s 35 points in the fourth quarter and overtime.

When it came down to crunch time, though, Clover’s supporting cast stepped up to secure the thrilling win.

McGovern, Scarlett, and Henkels all hit timely threes, in addition to Montie’s big bucket.

It was McGovern who clinched the game, hitting four straight free throws to cap off an 18-point performance and redeem himself for two crucial turnovers that had previously kept LaSalle in the game.

“I knew that I messed up. Coach just said, “Keep your head up, there’s still time left. We have plenty of time left,’ so I just kept making other plays. It felt good to make the free throws," McGovern said. “It’s personally a great feeling. We just kept battling”

The best part about such an incredible game? These two archrivals will square off again next weekend--only then, the stakes will be win or go home.

With Conwell-Egan losing earlier in the day, this game was to determine homecourt advantage in the Catholic League quarterfinals, with the Hawks and Explorers being locked into the fourth and fifth seeds. Having come out on top, Prep will be rewarded with getting to play that game in front of its raucous student section yet again.

LaSalle will most definitely come in ready to play, with the bitter taste of this loss still in its mouth.

Morris, though, will surely have his own team prepared.

“It’s gonna be a war,” he said. “It’s gonna be a war.”


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Chris Clover (above, against Bishop McDevitt) had 37 points in a triple-overtime win against LaSalle HS on Sunday. (Photo: Josh Einbinder-Schatz)

Ari Rosenfeld (@realA_rosenfeld)
--

St. Joe's Prep coach William "Speedy" Morris never doubted his team.

Not when outside expectations were low entering the season, with the Hawks returning just one player with meaningful varsity experience.

Not when Prep trailed archrival LaSalle College HS by double digits in the first half and seemingly had no answer for the Explorers' attack.

Not even when the Hawks were down six with just under two minutes remaining after fighting back to force double overtime against LaSalle.It’s easy to be so confident when you have Chris Clover on your team.

Clover was simply dominant for The Prep in its final game of the regular season, scoring 37 points-- 30 of them after halftime--to defeat LaSalle, 79-74, in a an instant-classic, triple-overtime game.

“It’s great to have a Chris Clover. People asked me at the beginning of the year, ‘Who do you have?’ and I said, ‘Chris Clover and four students,’” said Morris. “The four students turned out to be pretty good players, but Chris Clover’s they key.

“He was terrific. He proved why he’s one of the best players in the city, and he took over the game."

A true shooting guard who is forced to do most of his work inside for the undersized Hawks, Clover overcame a slow start and was unstoppable throughout most of the second half and all three overtime sessions, showcasing the offensive arsenal that allowed him to be the Catholic League's leading scorer at nearly 22 points per game.

Everyone in the gym-- which was packed to the brim-- knew who was getting the ball on every possession, but the Explorers simply couldn’t do anything to slow him down. Even after LaSalle tried putting bigger defenders on him, the Saint Joseph’s-bound guard continued to will his way to the rim, finishing inside and getting to the line seemingly anytime he wanted.

“I struggled in the beginning but I kept my composure and I continued to shoot the ball, and I wasn’t letting the defense dictate my game,” Clover said. “I was just playing, to be honest. I was just playing, trying to help my team win. That’s all I was thinking about. I wanted to beat LaSalle of course. We had our fans over there, our support, so I just wanted to get that W.”

While Clover kept the Hawks in it throughout the game, the finishing touch came from the most unlikely of sources.

Junior forward Chris Montie entered the game for the first time when starting center Pete Gayhardt fouled out in the first overtime. His presence on the floor wasn’t too noticeable, as he fought hard defensively, battled for rebounds, and let Clover go to work on the offensive end.

However, with LaSalle holding a one-point advantage in the final minute of the third overtime, Clover drove to the basket, got a good look near the rim, but his attempt rimmed out. Not to fear, Montie was there to scoop up the loose ball after his defender had left to help on Clover, and finished the layup to put the Hawks ahead; LaSalle would not score for the rest of the game.

“I saw Chris drive through the lane like he’s been doing all night, and I just knew if he missed I had to be there, and I put it back up and it went in,” Montie said. “You’ve just got to keep your head in the game open the bench, stay into it, and when your number’s called you’ve got to get in there and perform.”

Prep did not get its first lead until early in the fourth quarter, after trailing by as much as 12 early, when reserve guard Mark Scarlett knocked down his second three of the game to make it a 40-39 advantage. The teams would go back-and-forth from there, with neither team leading by more than four points in the quarter and the score being tied five times.

After one of those ties, at 55-55, LaSalle’s Najee Walls converted a floater in the lane that looked like it would give the Explorers the win. With just one second remaining, however, Clover was fouled in the backcourt; LaSalle was in the double bonus, and he calmly knocked down both free throws to extend the game.

“When I got to the line I was just like, ‘Alright, I’m gonna make these,’” Clover said. “In my mind, I’m like, ‘I’ve gotta make these.’ That’s all that was going through my head. I’m just being confident, I’m not putting no doubt in my mind, so I just wanted to be confident and make the shots.”

The first overtime ended with Prep’s Jack McGovern making one of two free throws to tie the game with six seconds left, before LaSalle’s Dan Corr missed a jumper at the buzzer.

In the second extra session, it looked again like the Explorers would hold on for the win. Colgate-bound forward Dave Krmpotich scored the first five points of the period, giving LaSalle a 68-63 lead with 2:31 remaining.

Just like he had all game, though, Clover responded, going on a personal 8-2 run consisting of a three-- his first of the game--a contested long-two, and an and-one layup to tie the game at 71 with just 22 seconds remaining.

“I wasn’t thinking 3-point play, I was just trying to get a bucket,” Clover said. “Coach said that [Krmpotich], he always goes for the pump fake, so I was just trying to pump fake, get into his body and try to get the foul.”

Krmpotich would miss a good look from the left block, sending the game to a third overtime.

Although Clover stole the show, Walls and Krmpotich did everything they could to will the Explorers to victory. They finished with 27 and 22 points, respectively, including all but seven of LaSalle’s 35 points in the fourth quarter and overtime.

When it came down to crunch time, though, Clover’s supporting cast stepped up to secure the thrilling win.

McGovern, Scarlett, and Henkels all hit timely threes, in addition to Montie’s big bucket.

It was McGovern who clinched the game, hitting four straight free throws to cap off an 18-point performance and redeem himself for two crucial turnovers that had previously kept LaSalle in the game.

“I knew that I messed up. Coach just said, “Keep your head up, there’s still time left. We have plenty of time left,’ so I just kept making other plays. It felt good to make the free throws," McGovern said. “It’s personally a great feeling. We just kept battling”

The best part about such an incredible game? These two archrivals will square off again next weekend--only then, the stakes will be win or go home.

With Conwell-Egan losing earlier in the day, this game was to determine homecourt advantage in the Catholic League quarterfinals, with the Hawks and Explorers being locked into the fourth and fifth seeds. Having come out on top, Prep will be rewarded with getting to play that game in front of its raucous student section yet again.

LaSalle will most definitely come in ready to play, with the bitter taste of this loss still in its mouth.

Morris, though, will surely have his own team prepared.

“It’s gonna be a war,” he said. “It’s gonna be a war.”


Recruiting News:

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