CLAY CITY -- In the annual Clay County girls basketball battle, the Northview Knights simply had too much strength in the interior for the Eels to handle on Tuesday night.
Six-foot-five Northview center posted 28 points and 14 rebounds to go with six blocks in a 66-48 victory that was close for much of the game.
Despite the victory, Northview coach Bob Medworth wasn't happy with his team's performance. "Our mental effort was terrible tonight," noted Medworth. "We fell asleep too often on the defensive end, we'd defend them well for 15-20 seconds then give up a wide open 3-pointer or a layup."
The Knights opened the game with three straight baskets from Whitted on the low block to take an 8-2 run, but the Eels came roaring back on seven first period points from Whitney McWilliams to take a 17-12 lead after one quarter.
In the second quarter, the Knights' defense, a season long trademark, held the Eels to just two-of-11 shooting and forced five turnovers. Northview held Clay City scoreless until just our four minutes remained in the half, but Northview had taken a 29-22 halftime lead.
The Eels would get within five points on the first points of the half by McWilliams and narrowed the gap to four on a Bryleigh Schopmeyer 3-pointer late in the period. But from there the Knights finished the third quarter with back-to-back hoops from Whitted. "Julia (Whitted) really saved us tonight," said Medworth.
"We just don't have an answer for someone like (Whitted)," commented Clay City's Keith Jones who was leading the Eels while Chris Ross was absent due to a family illness. "We hit a dryspell (on offense) and we had to gamble a little bit (on defense)."
The Knights would open the final quarter with a basket from Laura McCrea, who had 13 points, and Whitted for a 48-36 lead. But the Eels would get another 3-pointer from Schopmeyer and a steal and a hoop from McWilliams to close to 48-41. Whitted answered with two baskets for a 52-41 advantage.
Clay City would make one final run on a putback basket from Sarah Kennedy and a 3-pointer from McWilliams who had 21 points on the evening. However, the Knights would close the door down the stretch on a 16-2 run as Casey Challandes scored seven of her 12 points in the final run and McCrea hit for nine of her 13 points as the Eels gave up a handful of layups while gambling on defense.
The victory was the ninth in 10 games for Northview and moves them to 12-6 overall while Clay City drops to 9-8 with a game at Eastern Greene on Thursday at 6 p.m. The Knights travel to Sullivan on Friday for a girls/boys doubleheader at 6 p.m.
McCrea 4-6 5-5 13, Hayes 3-14 2-2 9, Gregg 2-6 0-0 4, Challandes 5-7 2-2 12, Whitted 14-23 0-0 28, Spugnardi 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-56 9-9 66.
Clay City (48)
McWilliams 8-21 1-1 21, Collins 1-1 1-2 3, Schopmeyer 4-9 0-0 10, Ca.Gerber 3-9 2-2 8, Kennedy 3-9 0-0 6, Ch.Gerber 0-1 0-0 0, Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Tyler 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 19-52 4-5 48.
3-point fieldgoals -- Northview 1-10 (Hayes 1-8, Gregg 0-2), Clay City 4-15 (McWilliams 2-8, Schopmeyer 2-7). Total Rebounds -- Northview 30 (Whitted 14), Clay City 23 (Gerber 7). Total Fouls -- Northview 11, Clay City 11. Turnovers -- Northview 8, Clay City 11.