CLAY CITY -- The Union Bulldogs were able to dominate Clay City's girls in the paint, both on the boards and in scoring, to pick up a 52-45 victory on Monday night.
The Bulldogs got a combined 26 rebounds from Stacey Secrest and Kelsie Manuel and Secrest posted 22 points, including four in a decisive 8-0 run that put Union ahead 44-33 with 3:11 remaining in the game.
"(Union) got to the offensive boards and we didn't do a good job of rebounding," said Clay City coach Chris Ross. "They got to the line a lot and hit their free throws."
The Bulldogs did just that in the game, going to the line 36 times compared to just six for the Eels. Much of that damage came from Secrest who seemingly came up with every offensive rebound and got to the line 20 times by herself. Manual got to the line 10 times herself and was part of a dominant post presence by Union that was decisive.
"(Manual) did a great job of rebounding tonight. We talked during practice about needing to get a body on her and block out, but we didn't do that tonight," commented Ross.
Despite getting just three points from leading scorer Whitney McWilliams in the first half, the Eels did get 10 points from center Sarah Kennedy along with five boards to remain within 21-18 at the half.
In the third period the Eels got as close as 25-24 on a basket by McWilliams. But Secrest nailed a 3-pointer followed by a basket by Ashlee Lovelace to push the lead back to 30-24.
McWilliams, however, would answer the Bulldogs with a 3-point play at the other end, but, again, Secrest would cast a dagger into the Eels, picking up a 3-point play of her own to bump the lead back to 33-27. Lovelace would hit her second 3-pointer of the game and a Secrest free throw and basket by Hilari Howard would put Union ahead 42-33 heading to the final quarter.
"We definitely played hard tonight," Ross said of his defense. "But we played without purpose. We chased players around but allowed them to penetrate again and again and get to the free throw line."
In the fourth period the Bulldogs went to the line 17 times as the Eels attempted to narrow the gap. Bryleigh Schopmeyer nailed a 3-pointer to get the Eels within 44-38 with 2:08 left, but Secrest answered with a 3-point play to finish off the Eels' last chance at a comeback.
Kennedy had 18 points in the contest and McWilliams tallied 11 in the game.
The Eels (8-3 overall, 2-2 SWIAC, 1-3 TRC) will have a break until Jan. 3 vs. Cloverdale.
In the junior varsity game the Eels hammered Union 55-16 as Emily Reed and Lydia Farmer posted 12 points. Mardi Steiner added 11 in the contest.
Clay City (45)
McWilliams 4-14 2-3 11, Collins 1-6 0-2 2, Schopmeyer 2-10 0-0 6, Ca.Gerber 2-7 0-0 4, Kennedy 9-13 0-0 18, Ch.Gerber 0-4 0-0 0, Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Tyler 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 20-58 2-6 45.
Lovelace 3-11 0-0 8, Secrest 4-21 13-20 22, Gambill 2-7 2-2 6, Manual 1-6 4-10 6, Hathaway 3-6 0-2 6, Howard 1-4 2-2 4. Totals: 14-55 21-36 52.
3-point fieldgoals -- Clay City 3-14 (McWilliams 1-7, Schopmeyer 1-7), Union 3-11 (Lovelace 2-7, Secrest 1-3, Gambill 0-1). Total Rebounds -- Clay City 37 (Kennedy 7, Schopmeyer 6), Union 42 (Manual 15, Secrest 11). Total Fouls -- Clay City 26, Union 9. Fouled out -- Clay City (Collins). Turnovers -- Clay City 19, Union 16.