The Clay City Eels, 2-1 after a convincing 69-33 win over Union on Friday, continues a four game road swing with a trip to Eminence tonight beginning at 6 p.m.
Eminence got their first win of the year over the same Union squad on Saturday night, 40-34. The Eels are coming off of a 2-19 season last year where they were defeated in the first round of sectionals by Turkey Run, 76-63. After last year's disappointing season, not much has gotten better for Eminence as they lost their best player in Ty Crone.
The high scoring guard finished the year averaging over 23 points a game for Eminence and took his talent to NAIA college, Indiana Southeastern this year.
This year the Eels will be hard pressed to replace his offensive punch. So far Eminence has failed to score more than 48 points in a game and won't match up well with Clay City tonight either.
Clay City won last year's contest with a strong second half showing after trailing 31-27 at the break. The Eels outscored Eminence 50-32 after the half on their way to a 77-53 victory. Crone rang up 25 points and pulled down eight rebounds in the first half of the game, but Clay City held him to just six points in the second half as they pulled away.
With an undersized guard rotation this year, Eminence will be hard pressed to matchup with Clay City's balanced attack.
Eminence does not have a guard taller than 5'9" and places three six-footers up front. Junior center Chris White led the Eels in scoring versus Union with 12 points. At 6'2" he'll likely matchup with Clay City's Matt Farmer (6'4") underneath. At the three and four spots, Eminence will run Tim Okerson and Ryan Saucerman out, but at 6'0" apiece they will have difficulties guarding Clay City's Roger Harden and Landon Wellman who are quick and strong.
It wouldn't be surprising to see Eminence in foul trouble early trying to stay in front of the driving Clay City attack. The Eels like to drive the hoop to open up their outside game and Eminence will have not only the size issue to contend with, but also a quickness and experience deficiency.
Clay City's Elliott Booe and Camrand Tucker will likely give Eminence fits at their guard spots. Booe, already excellent at getting in the passing lanes, could have an exceptional night playing against smaller guards who are a little green at the varsity level.
Clay City's reserves got some invaluable game experience on Friday at Union. The starting five played a combined 95 out of a possible 128 minutes. No starter played longer than 23 minutes out of 32 in the game.
Expect defense to key a fair amount of transition and fast break attempts for Clay City tonight. Eminence had trouble in their first two games handling the ball against pressure and Clay City will provide plenty of the half and full court variety.
Clay City will have to remain focused and stay sharp to get the win versus the Eels, but if they're on top of their game they should win convincingly.