CLAY CITY -- Heading into the holiday season, one thing Clay City head coach Chris Ross can be thankful for is the mettle his team has acquired from two close game experiences early in the year.
Actually make that a third one on Monday night as the Eels held off a furious late charge from a very game Rockville squad to move to 2-1 overall with a 48-41 victory.
"This is the type of game we might have lost in the past," commented Ross. "We had some kids who really stepped up tonight."
One of those players would be senior Bryleigh Schopmeyer who knocked down a 3-pointer and all six of her free throws in the final quarter of the victory. "(Schopmeyer) was huge for us tonight," mentioned Ross. "She showed a lot of composure. She's a senior, Bryleigh was really big for us."
The Eels actually led 28-10 at halftime after a dominant defensive half in which the Eels actually held Rockville to one basket over nearly 10 minutes into the second half.
Clay City led 28-12 after Chelsee Gerber sank a layin, but Rockville finally turned up the pressure on the Eels as Kendra Chobanov dropped home a shot and Morgan Wheeler turned an Eels' turnover into a basket as part of a 6-0 run that got Rockville within 28-18.
It was then that Clay City junior Ashley Collins was injured going after a loose ball. Her injury, a possible dislocated shoulder, put a big crimp into the Eels' defensive pressure.
"I can't say enough about Ashley (Collins)," said Ross. "She's without a doubt our best defender. To lose her forced us to change our rotations."
Without Collins in the lineup, the Rox continued their run and eventually tied the score to open the fourth quarter at 31-31.
With the score knotted at 33-apiece, Whitney McWilliams knocked down a shot and Schopmeyer came up with a big 3-pointer to push the lead back to 38-33. McWilliams would hit another shot, part of her 16 point evening, to give the Eels a 40-33 advantage with 3:57 left.
Rockville would battle back within 42-41 on baskets from Wheeler and Myers followed by a steal and layin from Wheeler with less than a minute left.
From there however, the Eels clamped down on defense and knocked down their free throws.
Schopmeyer hit two and after Wheeler missed a 3-pointer, McWilliams hit a pair of charity tosses to push the score back to 46-41.
Rockville would respond by turning the ball over on the inbounds pass amidst tough Clay City defense. Chelsee Gerber was fouled, but missed her free throw on a one-and-one opportunity, Rockville rebounded but turned the ball over. Schopmeyer finished the victory with two more free throws, part of her 16 in the game.
"We were able really make some big plays at the end of the game," said Ross. "We got some quality minutes from Chelsee Gerber and Whit(ney McWilliams) really did a good job of taking care of the ball."
The victory sends the Eels into a week long break with a 2-1 record before next Monday's showdown with White River Valley at home.
In the junior varsity game the Eels won 35-18 as Lydia Farmer scored 12 points and Mardi Steiner contributed eight for Clay City.
Angie Camp, Chelsee Gerber and Emily Reed scored four points.
Clay City (48)
McWilliams 6-15 2-2 16, Schopmeyer 4-8 7-9 16, Ca.Gerber 3-11 4-5 10, Kennedy 0-1 0-0 0, Collins 0-2 0-0 0, Ch.Gerber 1-2 0-1 2, Tyler 1-1 0-0 2, L.Rood 1-3 0-0 2, Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Riggs 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 16-44 13-17 48.
Wheeler 5-13 4-4 14, Myers 1-4 0-0 2, Chobanov 5-8 2-2 12, Burgess 0-2 0-1 0, Bumgardner 4-5 0-0 8, Stout 0-1 0-0 0, Payne 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 17-36 6-7 41.
3-point fieldgoals -- Clay City 3-11 (McWilliams 2-9, Schopmeyer 1-2), Rockville 1-4 (Wright 1-1, Wheeler 0-2, Myers 0-1). Total Rebounds -- Clay City 25 (Gerber 6), Rockville 24 (Chobanov 5, Burgess 5). Total Fouls -- Clay City 11, Rockville 13. Fouled out -- Rockville (Wheeler). Turnovers -- Clay City 11, Rockville 14.