CLAY CITY -- In an electric atmosphere in Clay City's gym Friday night, the Eminence Eels and Clay City Eels faced off in a physical matchup that left both squads deep in foul trouble for much of the second half.
However, it was Clay City that finally succumbed late in the fourth quarter under a large discrepancy in foul shots as Eminence won 68-61.
Clay City was called for a total of 35 fouls in the game with three starters having fouled out by the final buzzer. Eminence would go to the foul line 49 times in the game, 21 times in the fourth quarter alone as they clawed back from a 58-53 deficit with slightly over three minutes remaining.
Catrina Ford began the comeback with a 3-pointer that got her team within 58-56 with 3:01 left in the game. Eminence senior Laci Warmoth would lead her team to the victory from the line, hitting nine-of-nine free throws in the final 2:30 as Clay City starters Cameron Gerber and Whitney McWilliams headed to the bench with five fouls.
Clay City showed poise and determination along with a physicality that was lacking much of last season, a factor that should lead to a many more victories over last season.
Sophomore guard McWilliams kept her team under control with a 21 point effort and key baskets down the stretch while sophomore Kristin Tyler came off the bench for a huge effort when Gerber sat down with four fouls early in the third quarter.
Tyler would match up with Warmoth in the paint admirably on defense and chipped in six important points in the third quarter to help bring the Eels back from a 42-36 deficit at the midpoint of the period.
McWilliams would eventually tie the score on a drive to the basket that earned her a hoop and the foul that turned into a 43-43 score with 1:20 left in the third period. Tyler would put the Eels up with a short jumper and Clay City would extend their lead to 58-53 early in the fourth quarter on a pair of Brittany Rood free throws.
But Ford's 3-pointer got her team untracked and Warmoth would eventually put her team ahead on a three-point play with 1:19 left in the game. Clay City wouldn't be able to get even again.
Warmoth would end the game with 28 points, including a 18-of-22 night from the free throw line. Ford would tally 18 in the contest for Eminence.
For Clay City, McWilliams led the way in scoring with Gerber adding 12 points and Kasi Thatcher chipping in nine points. Six Clay City players scored six or more points.
Clay City (1-1 overall) will travel to Barr-Reeve next Friday night.
In junior varsity action, Clay City's defense stifled Eminence in a 28-5 victory.
Eminence didn't tally their first point until the 4:08 mark of the second quarter and scored just one field goal in the entire game.
Lacey Rood scored six points for Clay City with Chelsee Gerber adding five.