‘I don’t think they knew is well enough.’: Clever, seeded eighth, upsets state-ranked Branson to finish third at Pink & White

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The Clever Blue Jays were having some serious déjà vu on the O’Reilly Center floor Dec. 29. Branson was storming back from a double-digit deficit and threatening to take a fourth quarter lead, just like White Station in the quarterfinals and Mt. Vernon in the semis.But less than 24 hours after Mount Vernon completed that comeback and dealt the Blue Jays defeat, Clever got clutch 3-point shooting and came up with big stops to upset Branson, ranked No. 2 in Class 5, 72-66 to capture third place in the Pink Division of the Pink & White Lady Classic.“We don’t have any seniors on the floor, but these girls have played a ton of basketball and they’ve got a pretty high (basketball) IQ,” Clever coach Dan Jones said. “This year I really feel like we’ve gelled together really well, they’ve got their listening ears on, they’ve made some little adjustments to keep us in the game and continue to make things happen.”

Dead-eye 3-point shooting and pressure defense helped Clever take a 38-25 halftime lead. The Blue Jays connected on six 3-pointers in the first half — three each from Allie Clevenger and Tessa Newman — and forced Branson into 10 first-half turnovers.It looked a lot like two of Clever’s first three games at the tournament. While the Blue Jays managed to rally back to beat top seed White Station in the quarterfinals, Mount Vernon wriggled off the hook to beat Clever by two points in the semis.An 8-2 Branson run tightened things immediately in the third quarter as Branson got as close as five points on two occasions in the third quarter, but Clevenger beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer from the left corner to give Clever a 51-42 cushion heading into the fourth quarter.

Branson rallied …

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