-McWilliams tallies career-high 30 in win
By CAREY FOX
CLAY CITY -- If you would have told Clay City fans that their team would shoot just 3-of-16 from the field in the first quarter and the visiting Riverton Parke Panthers would hit eight-of-12 in the period, there is little doubt anyone could have predicted the route the game would take the rest of the way.
The Eels rallied from a three point deficit through the first eight minutes and, spurred by their defense, got to the basket easy and often on the way to a 74-52 victory.
After trailing 17-14 through one quarter, Clay City got the boost it needed from senior guard Whitney McWilliams and backcourt mate, Mardi Steiner.
The Clay City Eels went to a smaller lineup after junior center Sarah Kennedy went to the bench with her second foul. The results were striking and crucial for the Eels.
Clay City forced 11 turnovers in the quarter spurred by Steiner and McWilliams, who had six steals, and the Eels went on a scoring spree to the tune of 27 points in the period. The Panthers, stunned by the blow and unable to muster much of any rhythm on offense in the second quarter, tallied just nine as Clay City took control.
"We felt that we had to pressure their guards," commented Clay City coach Keith Jones. "(Riverton Parke) shot the ball well, if you left them open they would hit it. We thought that if we pressured them that we could hurt them and it did."
Did it ever.
McWilliams rang up 12 of her career-high 30 points in the second quarter and Steiner capitalized on a variety of steals and layups to score nine of her 19 in the period. The Eels held Riverton Parke to just seven shots in the quarter while hitting 11-of-20 themselves.
"We told Mardi (Steiner) at halftime that she gave us a spark off the bench. Ashley (Collins) got a little banged up and was hurting probably a little more than she was letting on so I let her sit down and kept Mardi in the game."
Steiner responded with perhaps her most aggressive game of the season, driving to the basket and, along with McWilliams, keeping her teammates involved in the offense.
Clay City took a 41-26 lead into the half and could have let up on their pressure heading into the third quarter. That wasn't the case as the Eels continued their strong play despite losing Kennedy early in the period to her fourth foul of the game.
Chelsee Gerber and Kristen Tyler each scored a pair of baskets for the Eels and McWilliams scored off a steal to extend the Eels lead to 50-32 and Chelsea Riggs added a free throw and a short jumper for the Eels who led 53-41 late in the period. From there, McWilliams scored on three straight drives to the basket, hitting four of her five shots from the field in the third quarter to put the game out of reach.
"Whit(ney) had a good game for us," said Jones. "Really I think she looks for other players but they chose not to come out on her and that was their decision. She was able to get to the basket."
Despite limited minutes on the floor, Kennedy scored nine and was one of the Eels' few bright spots in the first quarter, scoring six and pulling down four rebounds. The Eels put eight players in the scoring column as they scored their most points since a 76-52 win over Union to open the 2003-04 season.
The victory improved the Eels record to 4-2 this season heading into a Saturday morning game versus Turkey Run at 10 a.m.
Clay City's junior varsity team also was a winner on Thursday evening, taking a 36-18 victory as Kayla Withrow led the way with 10 points and Emily Reed added eight. Lydia Farmer had seven and Britney Glass tallied six.
Clay City 74, Riverton Parke 52
At Clay City
Riggen 5-13 0-0 11, Wood 2-5 4-6 8, Wheeler 4-10 4-5 12, Herzog 5-10 1-2 11, Campbell 2-4 0-1 4, Secuskie 3-4 0-0 6, Adams 0-3 0-0 0, Craft 0-1 0-0 0, Kite 0-0 0-0 0, Vincent 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 21-50 9-14 52.
Clay City (74)
McWilliams 10-25 7-8 30, Collins 1-4 0-0 2, Gerber 2-6 0-1 4, Steiner 6-12 6-8 19, Riggs 2-4 1-2 5, Tyler 1-4 1-2 3, Kennedy 3-5 3-4 9, Reed 0-1 2-2 2, Farmer 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 25-60 16-23 74.
3-point fieldgoals -- RP 1-4 (Riggen 1-2, Herzog 0-1, Wheeler 0-1), CC 4-12 (McWilliams 3-8, Steiner 1-4). Total Rebounds -- RP 33 (Wheeler 8), CC 35 (Kennedy 6, Tyler 5). Total Fouls -- RP 19, CC 16. Turnovers -- RP 25, CC 13.