CLAY CITY -- All season long Clay City has been winning with balanced scoring and solid defense.
Friday night was no exception.
Facing a tough Shakamak squad with a wealth of sharp shooters, the Eel's guards clamped down on the Lakers' perimeter play and Clay City's inside presence was too much on the offensive end in a 59-47 victory.
The Eels placed three players in double figures led by front liners Roger Harden and Camrand Tucker who combined for 29 points and Brock Roberts contributed 12 more points.
In the first quarter the Eels controlled both ends of the court versus Shakamak, holding the Lakers to just three-of-15 shooting from the field while hitting on eight-of-12 shots themselves.
"I was very pleased with the way we played the first half," commented Clay City coach Grant McVay. "We held a team with that type of shooters to just eight points in each of the first two quarters."
Indeed, the Eels held Shakamak to just 27 percent (six-of-22) shooting in the first half as Harden dominated inside versus the smaller Lakers lineup. The 6'4 Harden hit for six points and five rebounds in the first quarter on the way to a 16 point, nine rebound evening. "Roger (Harden) is capable of that nearly every night if he defends hard," said McVay. "We challenged him this week because we felt that he had a physical advantage over Shakamak's smaller lineup."
While Harden controlled the first period for the Eels, guards Clay Jones and Brock Roberts got their turn in the second stanza.
Jones scored seven of his nine points in the second quarter and Roberts added five more as the Eels pulled out to as much as a 22 point advantage.
Clay City would lead by 18 at the half, 34-16, but the Lakers would control the early going in the third quarter.
Shakamak, behind Tyler Rehmel and Josh Netherlain ran off a 9-3 run on their own as the Lakers forced three early turnovers by the Eels and capitalized to narrow the gap to 37-25. Clay City would respond with a bucket by Tucker and Harden followed by a pair of free throws and a 3-pointer by Roberts to push back out to a 48-31 lead through three periods.
But the Lakers weren't done yet.
Jared Rehmel took his opportunity to shine in the fourth quarter with 11 of his 16 points that helped Shakamak close to within 52-43 on a Netherlain 3-pointer with 3:08 remaining in the game.
"It's hard to find a gutsier performer than Netherlain," noted McVay. "He always has the ball in his hands at the end of the game and the Rehmel boys (Tyler and Jared) were very good at the end of the game."
Leading 52-43, Harden knocked down two free throws before Jared Rehmel hit a driving layup and Clay Jones hit a pair of free throws to push the Eels out to a 56-45 lead.
From there, the Eels were able to control the ball over the final couple of minutes and take home the key SWIAC and TRC conference victory to move to 10-6 overall.
The Eels will next visit North Central on Thursday evening.
In the junior varsity game, Clay City extended a 27-15 halftime lead into a 43-21 advantage after three quarters on the strength of a balanced offensive attack.
Kyle Romas tallied 13 points while Logan Bettenbrock added eight, Stephen Johnson seven and Garrett Thatcher six in a 48-33 victory.
The win moves the Eels' junior varsity to 10-4 this season.