SWITZ CITY -- The Clay City Eels advanced to the semifinals of the Greene County tournament with a hard fought 67-59 win over the Vincennes Rivet Patriots on Tuesday night.
The Eels trailed by as many as eight points in the third quarter before ending the period on a 21-8 run spurred by their defense.
"I don't think it takes a good coach or a basketball mind to see we had two different defensive levels tonight," said Clay City coach Grant McVay. "Everyone knows that when we play at that higher level we might not win, but we're going to be close."
The Eels turned up their defensive pressure midway through the third period and forced the Patriots to turn the ball over on three consecutive possessions.
Clay City senior Matt Farmer began the string with an inside hoop that got the Eels within 46-42, on the ensuing inbounds pass from the Patriots, they were called for carrying the ball. Farmer was fouled on the Eels' possession and sank both free throws to get Clay City within two points.
The Patriots turned the ball over once again and this time Elliott Booe hit the first of two back-to-back 3-pointers sandwiched around the third consecutive Rivet turnover. Booe's second trey gave the Eels a 50-44 lead and him 14 points in the period.
Booe was scoreless in the first period before hitting nine of his final 13 shots on the way to a game-high 28 points.
He was also part of the defensive pressure that limited senior guard Chris Ross to only one-of-four shooting from the field. "People are sometimes amazed by the points he has, but he limited Ross to four points tonight, he did a good job defensively as well," commented McVay.
Matt Farmer wasn't too shabby either, dropping 22 points on the Patriots, including eight in the decisive third quarter. "Matt's (Farmer) not going to get 22 points every night," said McVay. But when he asserts himself and plays well we're a lot harder to play against."
The Eels took a 50-47 lead into the fourth quarter that was quickly tied by Rivet senior Dustin Jones' 3-pointer. The lead see-sawed back-and-forth before Farmer went on a final run of six straight points to give the Eels a lead they would not give up.
Jared Defore capped the win by sinking five free throws down the stretch.
The Eels will face White River Valley in a semifinal game at 6:30 p.m. on Friday night.