-Eels bring home 1st title in over 10 years
Switz City -- All of those hours of practice and repetition paid off Saturday night for the Clay City Eels.
Led by Elliott Booe and Matt Farmer, Clay City captured the Greene Invitational Tournament championship with a convincing 63-48 victory over the North Central Thunderbirds at White River Valley High School.
Booe and Farmer combined for 35 points and 20 rebounds while leading the Eels to their first high school boys basketball championship in at least 10 years. Booe netted 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while Farmer scored 15 points and hauled in a game-high 11 boards. Landon Wellman also reached double figures with 11 points.
Clay City Coach Grant McVay gave all the credit to his players. "In a championship game atmosphere, it's going to be loud and [the game] is what the kids know and that's what is on the court," McVay said.
The two big differences for Clay City was Farmer's play and North Central's foul trouble.
Farmer dominated play under the basket with five field goals, 5-of-6 free throw shooting, 11 rebounds and a couple of blocked shots. "In tonight's game Matt Farmer played with so much heart. When Matt plays with so much energy we're pretty tough," McVay said.
The Eels apparently knew they had to stop North Central's Kyle and Andy Boyll. The duo entered the contest averaging 45.5 points per game -- Kyle 25 points per contest and Andy 20.5. Thanks in part to early foul trouble, Kyle Boyll scored just 15 points and Andy finished with six.
Clay City never trailed en route to its fifth consecutive win. Booe and Wellman scored the first four points of the game and the 8-2 Eels never trailed in the contest. Kyle Boyll hit back-to-back NBA-length 3-pointers for North Central, but Clay City took a 19-14 lead into the second period.
The Thunderbirds cut the margin to 23-22 when Matt Keller scored four straight buckets inside.
But with 4:09 left in the second period, the Thunderbirds were called for their seventh foul, and the Eels made the most of the one-and-one, hitting 7-of-10 free throws. Booe nailed a jumper at the buzzer to give Clay City a 35-26 halftime lead.
North Central never got closer than seven points in the second half. Booe opened the third period scoring with a 3-pointer. A layup by Camrand Tucker gave the Eels a 45-35 lead with 2:25 to play. Clay City ran some time off the clock with a delay in the final 1:34 of the quarter.
Clay City led 47-39 going into the fourth quarter and went on a 14-2 run that all but ended the contest. Booe started the run with a 3-pointer, a coast-to-coast layup and another 3-pointer from the top of the key. Wellman chipped in two points, Jared Defore sank two free throws and Farmer capped the run with a bucket in the lane, giving the Eels a 61-41 lead with 4:46 to play.
Clay City shot 54 percent (21-39) for the game and held North Central to 44 percent (18-41).
The Eels have little time to enjoy their championship, for the schedule gets tougher this week. Tuesday night they travel to South Putnam (5-3), then on Friday play host No. 2-ranked Class 2A Eastern Greene (9-3).
In the consolation game, Eastern Greene topped tournament host White River Valley 57-55. In the Saturday morning contests, Linton downed Dugger-Union 54-46 and Vincennes Rivet topped Shakamak 54.40.