WESTFIELD TWP. — The Cloverleaf boys basketball team not only won its second Suburban League game of the season Friday, but a 62-51 victory over Revere was its first over the Minutemen since Feb. 9, 2007.
The Colts (4-12, 2-8) were like a school of sharks smelling blood as they snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Minutemen (1-15, 1-9) thanks mainly to a defense that forced 20 turnovers, of which 13 were clean steals.
“We were ready for Revere tonight,” said point guard Cliff Collyer, who had 11 points and five steals. “Last time we played them, they beat us pretty bad (59-30 on Dec. 14). We wanted to get even tonight and knew we had to start early.”
Early it was, as Cloverleaf relied on steals to produce 12 points during a game-opening 22-7 run that completely took the wind out of Revere’s sails.
“We did not come ready to play tonight,” Revere coach Dean Rahas said. “Apparently, our team thought this would be a replay of our first game and they didn’t need to put out an effort.”
Behind 12 third-quarter points from Zach Lalkowski (16 points, 7 rebounds), the Minutemen finally got their act together and made a run to enter the final quarter down 42-38. Revere kept the heat on, finally pulling within 43-41 with 4:46 remaining.
“I called timeout and told the team this was gut-check time, and if we wanted to win this game we would have to step up and go after it now,” Cloverleaf coach Marty Ryan said. “At that point, I thought the rest of our season may rest on the final 4 minutes.”
Adam Podolak (13 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals) and Robby Buckwald (23 points, 9 rebounds, 4 steals) answered Ryan’s plea and finally stopped the bleeding.
Buckwald scored six straight points. Collyer added another deuce to cap an 8-0 run for a 51-41 lead. Down the stretch, Buckwald added one more hoop and Podolak contributed five points.
“Podolak’s contributions tonight were huge,” Ryan said. “After we lost Brandt Buckholz at the start of the third quarter due to fouling out, we needed someone to step up and Adam, along with Jason Sykora (7 points), came through.”
The win seemed to breathe new life into the Colts as they prepare for the final games on the schedule.
“This was the one we needed,” Buckwald said. “Now we know we can win and not fold down the stretch. I am confident if we play the way we did tonight in the first half and fourth quarter, we can run the table the rest of the way and be on a roll heading into the tournament.”
Another unsung hero for the Colts was senior point guard Brandon Johnson (2 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists).
“That is the difference between this team and the other Cloverleaf teams I have played on in the past,” Buckwald said. “Everybody contributes and everybody plays the game thinking we will win regardless of the score. It is that kind of attitude that is slowly starting to turn our program around. Tonight was a big step for us.”
|A late charge by Cloverleaf’s junior varsity fell short as Revere held on for a 45-42 win. Braedon Hansen led the Colts with 12 points, while Revere’s Shane O’Brien topped all scorers with 15.|
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Cloverleaf 62, Revere 51
REVERE 5 12 21 13 — 51
CLOVERLEAF 9 22 11 20 — 62
Revere — Dylan Geig 3-1-7, Zach Lalkowski 7-2-16, Mike Benson 0-2-2, Teddy Hughes 3-0-9, Jordan Holtkamp 3-0-8, Dezmond Rozek 2-3-7, Ben Sass 0-0-0, Dylan Seikel 0-2-2. TOTALS: 18-10-51.
Cloverleaf — Brandon Johnson 1-0-2, Robby Buckwald 8-7-23, Brandt Buckholz 1-1-3, Ryan O’Callaghan 1-0-3, Cliff Collyer 3-5-11, Adam Podolak 3-6-13, Jayson Sykoa 3-1-7, Dillon Mullins 0-0-0. TOTALS: 20-20-62.
3-point goals — Hughes 3, Holtkamp 2, O’Callaghan, Podolak. Rebounds — Revere 34 (Lalkowski, Rozek 7), Cloverleaf 26 (Buckwald 9). Assists — Revere 13 (Holtkamp 4), Cloverleaf 12 (Johnson 6). Records — Revere (1-15, 1-9), Cloverleaf (4-12, 2-8). Junior varsity — Revere 45, Cloverleaf 42.