CLOVERDALE -- With three weeks off during the holiday season, the Clay City Eels showed little rust during the first quarter against Cloverdale.
But the Clovers 2-3 zone helped force the Eels into a cold streak from the field while Cloverdale put together a deadly inside-outside shooting display during the middle quarters of a 67-54 victory.
In the opening stanza the Eels got out to a 15-10 lead on the back of sophomore guard Whitney McWilliams' 10 point explosion. The Eels also shot 50 percent (six-of-12 from the field) in the period while holding Cloverdale to just 31 percent (four-of-13 FG).
But in the second quarter Cloverdale shook off their shooting woes and used their size advantage to its full extent.
With three starters listed at 5-10, the Clovers went inside early and got four 3-pointers in the quarter to ring up a 20-10 scoring advantage and take a 30-23 lead at the break.
"(Cloverdale) is awfully big and athletic," commented Clay City coach Chris Ross afterwards. "Rachel Varnes is a really player from them."
Varnes would provide the killing blows for the Clovers during a 10 point third quarter on the way to a 15 point, 10 rebound night. Varnes hit all five of her shots in the period and the Clovers hit 10-of-13 from the field, mostly on shots from the paint. The Eels meanwhile hit just five-of-14 as Cloverdale opened up an 18 point lead by the end of the period.
"They had a seven-point lead at halftime and when they went on that run (14-2 to start the quarter) we simply didn't have an answer," said Ross.
While the Eels knew what they needed to do against the zone, Clay City simply wasn't hitting their shots inside "Our offense was effective, but we just couldn't get the ball where we needed to," commented Ross. "To their credit (Cloverdale) was hitting their shots and we just couldn't."
Cloverdale continued their strong play in the early parts of the fourth quarter as the Eels put on a press defense to attempt to force turnovers. The Clovers did commit nine turnovers in the quarter, but many were from their reserves in the final two minutes.
The Eels would close to within 13 at the final buzzer thanks to a strong rush by McWilliams who had a game-high 25 points. Kasi Thatcher chipped in 12 for the Eels and Sarah Kennedy added seven points and nine rebounds.
Clay City (5-6 overall) will visit Owen Valley next Monday with the junior varsity beginning at 6:30 p.m.
In the junior varsity game, the Eels dropped a close 26-22 decision as Cloverdale put together a strong fourth quarter rush to take victory.
The Eels were led by Kristin Tyler and Chelsea Riggs who had six points and Chelsee Gerber who added four.
Cloverdale's Hanna McGuire led the Clovers with 14 points.
Clay City (54)
McWilliams 10-20 2-4 25, Schopmeyer 1-8 0-0 2, Gerber 2-5 1-2 5, Kennedy 3-6 1-2 7, Thatcher 4-5 4-4 12, Collins 1-1 0-2 2, Johnson 0-6 0-0 0, B.Rood 0-3 0-0 0, Tyler 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 21-58 9-16 54.
D.Neese 5-10 0-0 13, Combs 1-5 0-0 2, Lotz 1-3 1-4 3, Ra.Varnes 7-12 3-6 15, Re.Varnes 5-8 0-0 10, Allen 3-6 0-0 7, Koosman 1-2 2-2 4, Brumfield 5-9 0-0 13, Mader 0-0 0-0 0, McGuire 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 28-55 6-13 67.
3-pointfieldgoals -- Cloverdale 5-11 (D.Neese 3-4, Allen 1-3, Brumfield 1-1, Koosman 0-1, Combs 0-2), Clay City 3-9 (McWilliams 3-7, Schopmeyer 0-2). Total Rebounds -- Clay City 38 (Kennedy 9, McWilliams 5), Cloverdale 34 (Ra. Varnes 10, Re.Varnes 5). Total Fouls -- Clay City 10, Cloverdale 11. Turnovers -- Clay City 19, Cloverdale 15. Team Rebounds -- Clay City 8, Cloverdale 6.