CLAY CITY -- The Clay City Eels, short on warm bodies due to injury, provided a solid scrap against a veteran Sullivan Golden Arrows squad on Friday before falling 55-51. The loss was the Eels sixth in seven games.
The Arrows were able to force Clay City to shoot from the perimeter for much of the game with a 2-3 zone. Sophomore forward, Garrett Thatcher, one of Clay City's top scorers was held without a fieldgoal attempt in the game and attempted just two free throws in the first half. "They packed it in around Garrett (Thatcher)," noted McVay. "But early on he wasn't as active as he needed to be, cutting and screening to get open. He's just a sophomore, a good sophomore, but he's just really getting his first extensive court time this year."
Sullivan came out firing, completing two three-point plays and drilling a 3-pointer to take a 9-0 advantage early in the first quarter, but the Eels, as they did all night, came clawing back into the contest as Josey Vansickle hit a pair from long range.
The Eels would trail just 15-10 after the first period though Sullivan hit all five of their shots from the field and each of their four free throws.
In the second half, Sullivan made several attempts to close the door on Clay City.
Sullivan's 6'4 junior, Justin Ridge scored 11 of his 19 points in the second half and was a handful inside for the Eels. Thatcher picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter and was forced to the bench.
Ridge and Aaron Hoffner scored on back-to-back possessions in the third period to give Sullivan a 34-26 lead, but Vansickle hit one of his five 3-pointers in the game to narrow the gap back to five. The Eels would get within two points after a pair of free throws from Brock Dyer and a layin by Cole Schroer after a steal at midcourt by T.L. Roeschlein. But holding a tentative 37-35 lead, the Arrows' Derrick DeMoss hit a quarter ending 3-pointer for another five point Sullivan lead.
In the fourth period, Sullivan would extend their lead to 49-40, but a Klay Knox 3-pointer and a steal and basket from Dyer would get the Eels back to 49-45. But the Golden Arrows again pulled back out to a comfortable lead on a three point play by Ridge with 37 seconds left.
On the Eels' end, Roeschlein converted a rebound basket and a Sullivan turnover led two a pair of free throws by Thatcher to get the Eels within a possession at 54-51 with eight seconds remaining.
An Eels' foul sent DeMoss to the line for a one-and-one opportunity. He would miss the first shot, but Ridge was able to get the rebound and draw a foul. He converted one-of-two free throws to seal the win.
"They made some crucial plays at the times they needed them," said McVay. "We cut it to three (points) at the end and they missed the front end (of a one-and-one at the free throw line). We didn't seal off as effectively as we should have and they got the rebound."
Clay City drops to 4-8 overall this season and will travel to North Daviess next Friday for a 6 p.m. contest.
In the junior varsity game, Wayne Jeffers converted a rebound basket with just 0.4 seconds left in the game to give the Eels a 28-27 victory.
Jeffers led the way with 10 points with Fred Modesitt adding eight and Cole Schroer seven.
Ficklin 1-3 3-4 5, DeMoss 3-4 0-1 8, Huff 3-3 2-2 8, Hoffner 2-5 1-1 5, Ridge 6-11 6-8 19, Landes 2-3 0-0 6, Smith 0-1 0-0 0, Falconbury 2-2 0-0 4. Totals: 19-32 12-16 55.
Clay City (51)
Roeschlein 3-7 0-1 6, Knox 2-6 0-0 5, Vansickle 7-10 2-2 21, Dyer 3-11 4-4 10, Thatcher 0-0 7-8 7, Griffith 0-0 0-0 0, Schroer 1-1 0-0 2, Farmer 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 16-34 13-16 51.
3-point fieldgoals -- Sullivan 5-8 (DeMoss 2-3, Landes 2-3, Ridge 1-1, Smith 0-1), Clay City 6-16 (Vansickle 5-7, Dyer 0-5, Knox 1-4). Total Rebounds -- Sullivan 20 (Ridge 9), Clay City 14 (Roeschlein 7). Total Fouls -- Sullivan 15, Clay City 16. Turnovers -- Sullivan 13, Clay City 11.