The Clay County basketball rivalry is certainly one of the most intense around the Wabash Valley and tonight the dogfight that is Northview vs. Clay City will be renewed at Northview High School.
After enjoying immense success over the past several years, both schools are looking to make their way to, and above the .500 mark with youthful rosters.
The Knights have suffered a pair of emotional losses in the past week, falling to rival West Vigo on a Bryan Chestnut jumper with 6.6 seconds remaining, Northview once again fell on Friday night to a late second dagger when Edgewood hit two free throws with less than a second remaining.
The pair of losses dropped the Knights to 2-4 overall this season and an uncharacteristic 1-2 in the Western Indiana Conference.
Meanwhile, Clay City has faced a rough schedule thus far, dropping contests to three teams that have received votes in the state polls.
Double-digit losses to Class 2A No. 7 Cloverdale, No. 21 South Vermillion and previously top-ranked Class A Bloomfield, do not convey the fact that the Eels played all three squads tough into the latter stages of the games.
Tonight you can throw the records out the window as both squads square off for county bragging rights.
Clay City will be looking to earn their first victory ever over the Northview Knights. The Eels will be attempting to win for the first time in 16 attempts versus the host Knights this evening beginning with the junior varsity contest at 6 p.m.
The Eels come in after a 58-53 victory over visiting Vincennes Rivet on Friday night.
In the contest, Garrett Thatcher posted 19 points and Josey Vansickle chipped in with 13 as Clay City held off a determined Patriots squad.
For the season, Thatcher leads the Eels in scoring at 15 points per game with Vansickle adding nearly 13 and Brock Dyer chipping in with just under double-figures.
The 6'3 Thatcher will have his work cut out for him versus a very sizable Northview front line that features 6'7 Heath Chamberlain and 6'8 Heath Wells. The pair combine for nearly 20 points per game for the Knights with Chamberlain leading in rebounding at just under 10 rebounds per contest.
Senior guard Shawn Hughes averages just under nine points per game and could be joined in the lineup by sophomore guards Matt Stuckey and Brinn Meunier who got the start in the Knights' last game. The pair helped turn up the pressure defensively in the last game and give Northview an added perimeter boost. Stuckey nailed three from long range versus Edgewood.
While the Knights have a significant size advantage in the paint, the Eels have some athleticism at the forward position. The matchups down low could go a long way in deciding this contest, in stark contrast to the perimeter power the Knights displayed in recent years.
The two squads have a lot of pride to play for in this game with bragging rights for an entire year and a long while for the loser to think about the decision.
The Eels won't take to the court again until Jan. 5 when they tipoff the Greene County Tourney versus Linton at 6 p.m. For the Knights, they won't get another chance to take the court until Dec. 27 when they look to take home their third straight Wabash Valley Classic tourney (They competed in the Hall of Fame Classic last year, but won the previous two WVC tourneys).