BLOOMFIELD -- The Clay City Eels are winning and winning with different styles these days.
After averaging nearly 70 points per game in two wins over South Putnam and Vincennes Rivet the last week, the Eels proved they could win with ball control if needed.
On Friday night, with their second-leading scorer Jared Defore on the bench with an undisclosed illness, fellow senior guard Clay Jones took over the point duties and did an admirable job in dissecting the host Eastern Greene defense for a 45-27 SWIAC victory.
Clay City controlled the game at both ends from the opening tip, hustling out to an 18-9 first quarter advantage as Brock Roberts nailed a pair of 3-pointers and Roger Harden chipped in six points.
Then the Eels dug in their defense and shut down the Thunderbird offense, holding them to just four-of-11 shooting in the first half. Meanwhile the Eels controlled the ball, were patient on the offensive end and worked the ball for high percentage shots.
The program worked to the tune of 67 percent shooting (10-of-15 FG) in the half though it might not have been the initial style coach Grant McVay had planned.
"(Tonight) was a little different style of win then Tuesday (a 72-55 win over South Putnam)," commented McVay. "We didn't do a lot of things that we had game-planned. We took control early and we were in a position to play in the half court more and forced them to adjust to us."
With a 26-14 lead at the halftime break, Clay City continued their defensive pressure in the third period as their starting five and deep bench held the T-Birds to just one-of-six shooting to essentially put away the game.
"We only had three turnovers in the second half and were really able to control the clock," noted McVay.
That was certainly the case as the front court of Roger Harden (10 points, four boards) and Camrand Tucker (eight points, three rebounds) coupled with the guard play limited the Eastern Greene possessions and would not enable them to mount a rally. "Camrand (Tucker) did a great job defensively and of being a leader tonight," commented McVay. "Roger (Harden) displayed some fortitude tonight (after spraining and ankle in the 1st half), continuing to play."
Clay Jones also did a solid job in taking over the point guard duties from Defore for a night. "I'm not sure that (Clay Jones) would have been able to handle guiding this team for and entire game early in the year," said McVay. "But he continues to improve and did a great job tonight."
For the game the Eels held the Thunderbirds to just 38 percent shooting (10-of-26) and just 29 percent (five-of-17) through three periods.
The Eels (8-4 overall, 2-1 SWIAC) will visit a tough Sullivan squad next Friday night at 6:30 p.m.
Clay City (45)
Tucker 3-4 2-3 8, Jones 2-3 1-3 7, Harden 3-7 4-4 10, Roberts 4-6 3-3 13, Roeschlein 0-1 1-2 1, Dyer 2-3 0-1 4, Johnson 0-0 2-2 2, Wells 0-0 0-0 0, Knox 0-1 0-0 0, Thatcher 0-1 0-0 0, Romas 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 14-25 11-16 45.
Eastern Greene (27)
Deckard 1-7 0-0 2, Ketchem 4-7 0-0 10, Chitwood 0-1 0-0 0, Fender 1-3 4-5 6, Childers 1-1 0-0 2, Roberts 1-3 0-1 2, Manion 0-1 0-0 0, Strange 2-2 0-0 5, Voils 0-1 0-0 0. Weaver 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 10-26 4-6 27.
3-point fieldgoals -- Clay City 4-6 (Jones 2-2, Roberts 2-2, Knox 0-1, Harden 0-1), E.Greene 3-10 (Ketchem 2-4, Strange 1-1, Deckard 0-2, Voils 0-1, Chitwood 0-1, Fender 0-1). Total Rebounds -- Clay City 16 (Harden 4), E.Greene 10 (Several with 2). Total Fouls -- Clay City 9. E.Greene 18. Fouled out -- Clay City (none), E.Greene (Ketchem, Chitwood). Turnovers -- Clay City 9, E.Greene 14.
JV -- Eastern Greene 36, Clay City 35
(Kyle Romas 13 points, Stephen Johnson 9)