CLAY CITY -- The Clay City Eels got off a losing snide on Monday night with perhaps their best offensive performance of the season, posting a 66-58 victory over Owen Valley.
The Eels put their transition offense into play in the first quarter, picking up a handful of easy baskets in scoring 23 first period points.
"We always talk about stretching defenses and pushing the ball up the court," said Clay City coach Chris Ross. "We were looking to exploit what the defense gave us."
The Eels did just that as Cameron Gerber, Whitney McWilliams and Bryleigh Schopmeyer all tallied more than five points in the quarter as Clay City took a 23-18 lead into the next period.
Owen Valley closed the gap in the second quarter, eventually getting within 36-34 heading into halftime.
McWilliams would pace the Eels in the third period, scoring seven points and giving Clay City a 41-37 lead. From there however, Patriots' guard Samantha Stahl went on a hot streak, scoring four of her game-high 27 points to knot the score at 43-43.
Callie Matsel would give the Patriots a brief lead at 44-43, but the Eels would circle the wagons and get a pair of free throws from Gerber, a Schopmeyer jumper and a pair of free throws from McWilliams to complete a 6-0 run and grab a 49-44 lead.
Stahl would score a traditional three-point play before Kristen Tyler capped the period with a basket and a Clay City 51-48 lead.
While Stahl scored 27 points in the game, Ross believed his team did a solid defensive job on the sophomore guard.
"I thought we were very active on defensive," mentioned Ross. "We did a nice job on Stahl. I thought it was a good game for us all around."
Stahl did post 16 of her points in the middle two periods, hitting 11-of-13 free throws, but the Eels were able to limit her to just two shots from the field in the final period while Owen Valley attempted to make a closing run.
McWilliams sandwiched three free throws around two from Stahl and another hoop in the opening minutes that got the Patriots within 54-52.
But Schopmeyer responded with an important three-point play, part of her 15 points on six-of-eight shooting to boost the lead to 57-52. But the Patriots came right back after a Gerber basket.
Stahl hit two free throws and Katelyn Evans hit a pair of free throws following a Clay City offensive foul. The shots got within 59-56 at the 2:49 mark, but Schopmeyer came through in the clutch once more.
Schopmeyer picked up a loose ball rebound and scored a basket and got the foul. She hit the free throw to give the Eels another six point lead at 62-56 and Clay City held off the Patriots with a Gerber basket and two free throws from McWilliams.
"I think our mindset and maturity has gotten a lot better," said Ross of his team closing out the Patriots. "Our kids were very composed and we played intelligent down the stretch."
The Eels placed three players in double figures with McWilliams posting 24, Schopmeyer's 15, along with six rebounds , and 17 from Gerber. Sarah Kennedy also pulled down six boards.
"(Bryleigh) Schopmeyer made some huge plays for us tonight," said Ross referring to the pair of late three-point plays. "Those plays really helped us stretch out the lead."
Clay City advances to 8-5 overall with a road trip to rival Bloomfield on Thursday beginning at 6 p.m.
In the junior varsity game, the Eels picked up a 23-13 victory led by Mardi Steiner's 12 points and Angie Camp's five.
Clay City (66)
McWilliams 7-14 9-10 24, Collins 1-3 0-0 2, Schopmeyer 6-8 2-2 15, Ca.Gerber 7-9 3-4 17, Kennedy 1-5 0-0 2, Rood 1-2 0-0 2, Ch.Gerber 0-1 0-2 0, Johnson 0-1 0-0 0, Tyler 2-3 0-0 4. Totals: 25-46 14-18 66.
Owen Valley (58)
Truax 1-3 0-0 2, Stahl 8-15 11-13 27, Hornaday 3-8 0-0 6, Matsel 5-10 5-5 15, Poland 1-4 0-0 2, Ooley 1-3 0-0 2, Evans 1-4 2-2 4. Totals: 20-47 18-20 58.
3-point fieldgoals -- Clay City 2-9 (McWilliams 1-6, Schopmeyer 1-3), Owen Valley 0-5 (Stahl 0-3, Poland 0-1, Ooley 0-1). Total Rebounds -- Clay City 26 (Kennedy 6, Schopmeyer 6), Owen Valley 19 (Matsel 4). Total Fouls -- Clay City 16, Owen Valley 13. Turnovers -- Clay City 19, Owen Valley 17.