CLAY CITY -- The results of Monday evening's Clay City girls' basketball game might be a bit deceiving when you consider that Eels' coach Chris Ross felt that his team had gotten much better during a 14 day layoff.
While the final score is what certainly is the bottomline for both teams, the most influential numbers lay elsewhere.
The Eels fell 52-44 to the Clovers, but the numbers that affected the score the most is a 38-13 free throw advantage that Cloverdale enjoyed.
While Clay City held the Clovers to just 13-of-58 (22 percent) shooting from the field, Cloverdale pounded the smaller Eels on the offensive boards and held a 54 to 37 advantage on the glass.
Afterwards, despite the loss, Ross doled out praise for his squad.
"I thought we did some good things tonight," he said. "I was real pleased with what I saw. We attacked the zone much better and got to the middle. I thought we made some good strides over break."
While the Eels did do a good job of attacking the zone against the sizable Clovers, Clay City couldn't seem to solve the inside power of Becky and Rachel Varnes.
The 5'10 forwards combined for 25 points and 31 rebounds, including 22 boards by Rachel Varnes who had 14 points in the game. The pair also played a big role in the Eels shooting just 14-of-57 (25 percent) from the field.
The Eels led 10-7 through one quarter as Whitney McWilliams and Bryleigh Schopmeyer each hit 3-pointers. Clay City would extend their lead to 17-7 before Cloverdale started their rally with a pair of 3-pointers from Emily Parks. Rachel Varnes was considerably active in the period after posting just three rebounds and no points in the first quarter.
In quarter number two, Varnes dominated inside, pulling down seven rebounds and getting to the free throw line nine times, many on offensive rebounds. She scored seven of Cloverdale's 16 points in the period as Cloverdale raced ahead 23-22.
Clay City rallied in the third quarter, going ahead 26-23 on two free throws from Schopmeyer and a bucket by Lacy Rood. But momentum began to swing when Clay City was called for a technical when arguing a call soon afterwards.
Hannah Monnett hit one-of-two free throws and McGuire followed by hitting two of her own to knot the score briefly at 26-26.
Cameron Gerber responded with a basket before Cloverdale finished on a 10-4 run paced by four points from the Varnes' and four from Monnett.
Leading 36-32 heading into the final quarter, the Clovers would take the ball inside early and often.
Cloverdale would manage to hit just four-of-16 from the field, but Rachel Varnes pulled down eight rebounds and scored five points with Becky Varnes adding five more rebounds and five points to hold the Eels at bay.
The Clovers would pull out to a 47-36 advantage as Clay City struggled from the field, hitting just three-of-18 in the quarter.
The Eels would have one more run in them.
McWilliams dropped home a basket and Gerber added two more free throws to get within 47-40. On the inbound pass, the Eels put on a full court trap that led to a Lacy Rood steal. McWilliams would miss a 3-pointer however and Cloverdale responded with a basket from McGuire.
"I was really happy with Whitney (McWilliams) tonight," said Ross. "She was really active and didn't become a stand and shoot player. She did a good job of penetrating and forcing (Cloverdale's) zone to collapse."
Trailing 49-40, the Eels got a 3-pointer from Schopmeyer, part of her eight points, to get within 49-43, but the Eels got no closer as Cloverdale hit eight-of-15 free throws in the final period and held off Clay City.
"I thought our kids did a nice job," said Ross. "(Cloverdale's) kids are big and athletic. We made some good progress (over break) against the zone."
The Eels (7-5 overall) will be back in action next Monday versus Owen Valley at home beginning at 6 p.m.
In junior varsity action the Eels picked up a 35-30 victory as Emily Reed sank the decisive free throw in the closing seconds to get the victory.
Angie Camp led the way with 12 points and Chelsea Riggs added 11 for the Eels.
Monnett 1-14 6-8 8, Parks 2-7 0-2 6, McGuire 3-19 6-12 13, Ra.Varnes 4-12 6-11 14, B.Varnes 3-6 5-8 11, Mader 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 13-58 23-38 52.
Clay City (44)
McWilliams 5-22 2-2 14, Collins 1-3 0-0 2, Rood 2-6 2-2 6, Schopmeyer 2-8 2-4 8, Ca. Gerber 3-8 3-4 9, Kennedy 1-6 0-0 2, Ch.Gerber 1-4 1-1 3, Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Tyler 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 14-57 10-13 44.
3-point fieldgoals -- Cloverdale 3-8 (Parks 2-4, McGuire 1-4), Clay City 4-14 (McWilliams 2-9, Schopmeyer 2-5). Total Rebounds -- Cloverdale 54 (R.Varnes 22, B.Varnes 9), Clay City 37 (Rood 8, Kennedy 6). Total Fouls -- Cloverdale 13, Clay City 27. Fouled out -- Clay City (Collins, Schopmeyer). Turnovers -- Cloverdale 12, Clay City 10.