MONTGOMERY CITY – Sometimes it really is as close as it looks.

Clopton and New Haven were separated by one or two baskets for much of their game Friday.

Clopton earned the consolation title at the Montgomery County Invitational Tournament with a final score that reflected that close-fought match: 58-53.

New Haven led 10-6 coming out of the first quarter, trailed 23-18 at the half. The game was tied 39-39 at the end of the third quarter.

Maleek McPike led the team at the basket, scoring 20 points.

Clopton Head Coach Tony Francis said the team’s performance against what he called a “solid” New Haven squad might indicate what Clopton might be capable of this year.

“In an early season game, it was nice to see our guys show poise and discipline.  In a couple stretches during the second half, New Haven made a couple runs and we didn’t flinch.  We stayed true to our team philosophy and played as a unit.  I am hoping a win like this makes the guys even more hungry during our practice sessions,” Francis said

Francis specifically pointed to the team’s strong performance at the free-thrown line — successfully making more free throws than New Haven even attempted.

Clopton earned the spot in the consolation final by beating Silex 53-25. Clopton only decisively pulled away in the second half — a dynamic Francis credited to a Clopton squad still finding its confidence and a strong performance by Silex.

“Silex always does a nice job of imposing their will and they scrap until the final buzzer.  Give them credit for making us play a sloppy game,” Francis said.

A two-point difference shunted Clopton into the consolation bracket in their Tuesday, Dec. 3 game against Bowling Green, which ended 47-49 in favor of Bowling Green.

The Bobcats opened up a wide advantage in the first quarter of the game, which Clopton ground down over the course of the rest of the game.

“You cannot spot a good team 15 points at the beginning of the game and expect to find success.  You could tell this was our first game of the season, but that does not provide any excuses at all.  Bowling Green did what they had to do.  I am proud of the fight we demonstrated in coming all the way back to tie the game and ultimately giving ourselves the opportunity to win,” Francis said.

In the tournament championship, Hermann beat Bowling Green 47-37.

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