It was a third quarter that coach Bailey Jackson will remember for a long time.
The Clover High School boys’ basketball team entered the third quarter of its match against rival York clinging to a 26-24 halftime lead.
The visiting Blue Eagles expanded the lead by 20 points to 53-33 by the time the quarter drew to a close.
“It was the best quarter we’ve played since I’ve been the coach at Clover,” Jackson said after the game.
With Friday’s 72-46 conquest of rival York, the Blue Eagles improved to 6-1 in Region III-AAAA, with visions of a playoff run once regular-season play ends in mid-February.
Playing before a noisy crowd in the York Comprehensive High School gym, a free throw by senior guard RJ Moore followed by Bryce Allen’s three-pointer and a basket by Moore pushed Clover to a 6-0 lead.
Next came an Aaron Milner basket inside after a lob pass from Allen, expanding the Clover lead to 8-1.
York began closing the gap, with Deshaw Andrews’ three-pointer slicing Clover’s lead to 17-16 at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter was closely contested, with York matching Clover almost basket for basket.
Allen, John Wilson and Austin Stone had timely baskets for the Blue Eagles. Though the first half ended on an Andrews’ slam for York, the visitors from Clover led 26-24.
After York assumed a 27-26 lead to open the third quarter, the Blue Eagles exploded into a scoring flurry, beginning with a Milner basket that regained the lead for Clover.
A Quise Robbins basket, followed by Wilson’s three-pointer and another Wilson basket pushed Clover’s lead to 35-27.
After Andrews converted a free throw for the Cougars, Robbins scored the next two baskets for Clover, the latter a three-pointer, staking the Blue Eagles to a 40-28 advantage.
The third-quarter scoring barrage continued with a three-pointer by Allen, who finished with a team-high 20 points.
Moments later, Wilson drove the lane and banked an off balance shot off the glass, expanding Clover’s lead to 47-28.
A basket and free throw by 6-foot, 8-inch Stone expanded Clover’s lead to 50-28. Allen closed the third-quarter scoring spree with an acrobatic shot from close range and subsequent free throw as the Blue Eagles soared to a 53-33 advantage.
Having sealed the win with the third-quarter surge, the Clover contingent continued to expand the lead in the fourth quarter, with Wilson, Allen and others providing the scoring punch.
“I don’t know what it was but we were ready to play tonight,” Jackson said after the game. “We picked a perfect night to do it.”
The Blue Eagles travel to Gaffney Friday for another key game.
The action begins at 8 p.m., after the girls’ varsity game at 6:30 p.m. The Blue Eagles travel to Fort Mill Tuesday, Feb. 3 for another key region clash.