SWITZ CITY -- When a basketball team is playing on the road, especially against a tough opponent, defense and rebounding are what tends to make the difference.
On Monday, the Clay City Eels played solid defense against the host White River Valley Wolverines, but lost the all important rebounding battle in a 54-44 defeat.
"That was a tough, physical contest," commented Clay City coach Chris Ross. "I thought our kids defended hard tonight. I'm really proud of their emotion and energy level."
Clay City went on their heels early against an aggressive WRV defense, falling behind 16-8 through one quarter while turning the ball over nine times. But then the Eels put on their own defensive display and shut down the Wolverines on the offensive end. One big key was not allowing the Wolverines second-chance shots.
The visitors outrebounded their hosts 30-23 in the first half as they closed their deficit to just 20-16 at the halftime break.
The Eels continued their strong play in the third quarter despite a quick burst by WRV.
Sophomores Erica Capehart and Dani Lammert each got quick baskets and senior Amber Williams picked up an aggressive rebound hoop to put WRV ahead 25-16 early in the third period.
But Clay City scrapped their way back into the game.
Cameron Gerber hit a free throw followed by Bryleigh Schopmeyer's jumper and a Whitney McWilliams' slashing drive to get the Eels back to 25-21. But the Eels weren't done yet.
Their defense forced another turnover from WRV which Schopmeyer turned into a 3-point jumper from the corner, part of her 14 point evening. McWilliams would also get into the act, knocking down her first from long range in the contest.
The shot briefly gave the Eels the lead at 27-25, but WRV's Williams responded with her own 3-point shot and the Wolverines wouldn't trail again. Clay City's Heather Johnson would hit one-of-two free throws afterwards to tie the contest at 28-28 but Tyra Schantz would answer with a bucket to put WRV up 30-28 heading to the final quarter.
The fourth quarter would belong to White River Valley's Lammert.
She would score 11 of her game-high 20 points in the final stanza including a back-breaking shot from 3-point land that ended the Eel's final run late in the period.
But the real story was the final quarter's rebounding discrepancy.
"We talked about (rebounding) at halftime. We needed to go to the boards hard but (WRV) just seemed to get to all the loose balls," commented Ross.
The Wolverines would take 16 shots in the final quarter compared to just nine for Clay City. That stat was reflected in the fact that WRV outrebounded Clay City 11 to four in the last quarter.
The Eels got within 34-33 early in the period as Schopmeyer knocked down a pair of free throws and back to 38-36 after a McWilliams 3-pointer, but Lammert hit a pair of shots to put WRV ahead 44-36 with 2:31 left.
The Wolverines also got final 3-pointers from Capehart and Lammert to close out the game despite another Schopmeyer 3-pointer.
Despite the loss, the Eels improved dramatically after a 70-25 loss last season. "We've improved incredibly," commented Ross. "These kids are much better players, we've still got a ways to go."
The Eels continue a busy week when they host Riverton Parke on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. and then Turkey Run on Saturday afternoon at 11:30 a.m.
"It's going to be a tough week, but we're glad to be back home again," noted Ross. "We had a great crowd our last home game against Eminence and we're looking forward to seeing a lot of people there on Thursday."
Clay City (44)
McWilliams 5-13 2-4 16, Schopmeyer 5-8 2-2 14, Gerber 1-6 5-8 7, Thatcher 0-4 0-0 0, Kennedy 1-2 2-3 4, Johnson 0-2 1-2 1, B.Rood 1-3 0-0 2, Collins 0-0 0-0 0, L.Rood 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 13-38 12-19 44.
Lammert 7-12 3-3 20, Dyer 1-5 1-4 3, Capehart 3-10 1-2 8, Miller 0-3 2-2 2, Williams 4-9 8-10 17, Cooksey 0-2 0-0 0, Schantz 2-9 0-0 4, Stanley 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 17-50 15-21 54.
|White River Valley||16||4||10||24||--||54|
3-point fieldgoals -- Clay City 5-12 (McWilliams 3-8, Schopmeyer 2-4), WRV 3-8 (Lammert 1-3, Capehart 1-2, Williams 1-1, Schantz 0-2). Total Rebounds -- Clay City 30 (Kennedy 8), WRV 40 (Williams 12, Dyer 8). Total Fouls -- Clay City 15, WRV 18. Fouled Out -- WRV (Dyer). Turnovers -- Clay City 21, WRV 17.