There wasn't much about the Clay City girls' basketball game versus Shakamak on Thursday night that critics would describe as beautiful. In fact, at moments, it was downright painful to see for those in the stands. A rough and physical game that was decidedly in the Lakers favor ended with the Eels falling 47-32.
However, the Eels, at what passes for full strength these days were close, even ahead, in the first half before the Lakers fully unleashed their punishing forward Nicole Fougerousse.
The result was what passed for brutal as Fougerousse pounded and brutalized her way inside for 27 points, 16 in the second half, as the Eels succumbed to foul trouble late.
The whispers started late in the second quarter as a few fans began nicknaming Fougerousse "Godzilla" for her punishing style inside. She would score 11 points in the first half, but her real damage came in the third and fourth quarter with Clay City's Sarah Boone and Brittany Rood in foul trouble. Fougerousse would hit get to the line for 11 free throws in the second half, sinking 10 as the Lakers turned a 25-25 game into the final margin.
Boone and Bryleigh Schopmeyer were equal to the Lakers' tests in the first half, combining for 12 of the Eels' 19 points by the break. They also helped hold Fougerousse to just 11 points and a tie game at halftime, 19-all.
In the third quarter, with the pair in, the Eels were even until the midpoint when Fougerousse started pounding the glass and interior. She would score the Lakers final seven points of the quarter, including a 3-point play as Shakamak moved ahead 32-27.
Shakamak forward Christy Goble complicated things as well, providing 14 points and nine rebounds. Her ability to hit the mid-range jumper kept the Eels from completely collapsing on Fougerousse who hit 16-of-19 shots from the charity stripe.
Sophomore Michelle Betts kept the lid on Clay City's leading scorer Whitney McWilliams who rarely got the open shot. She would finish with 10 points in the game, tied with Schopmeyer for tops on the team. However, the two would combine for just five points in the fourth quarter when the Lakers shot 14 free throws and made nine. The Eels shot just five in the entire game.
Even Shakamak coach Jon Miller referred to the game as a "killing field." A term that certainly found the Lakers with the advantage as Shakamak shot 26 free throws in the game.
With four varsity players out with varying illnesses and injury, the depleted Eels simply couldn't muster the firepower to keep up with their SWIAC counterparts. The Eels dropped to 0-3 in the SWIAC and 1-10 overall. The Eels will have the holiday break to get healthy with no game until they face Cloverdale at home on January 6 at 6 p.m.