Bottom photo: (Andy McCammon photo)Jason Shouse (#44) and Garrett Thatcher (#50) block Matt Stuckey's shot in Tuesday's Northview/Clay City game.
CLAY CITY -- Despite the swirling snow and chilly temps outside on Tuesday night, it was hard to separate the annual Clay County title bout between Clay City and Northview's hoops squads from July 4. Both squads had plenty of fireworks to serve up to the capacity crowd the first quarter, but Northview's barrage lasted a bit longer than the Eels' on the way to a 74-50 victory at Clay City.
Both squads came out firing, drilling a combined seven-of-12 3-pointers in the opening period.
Clay City's Stephen Johnson fired home a trio of 3-pointers much to the delight of the home crowd, but the Knights answered with the artillery of Matt Stuckey who hit three of his own as Northview led 19-16.
The Eels held a tentative 26-23 advantage early on in the second period, but the Knights gathered themselves for a decisive and final run.
Stuckey drilled his fourth 3-pointer, Jared Timm completed his eight point first half with two hoops and 6'8 center Nick Wells hit a pair of free throws and another basket. The Knights finished the half on a dunk from Wells and a putback basket from Josiah Brock to complete a 17-2 half ending run.
"That type of run is just unacceptable," commented Clay City's Grant McVay. "They shot the ball probably as well as they have all year."
In fact, Northview shot a remarkable 70 percent (16-of-23) from the field including four-of-six from long range in the first half to control a 39-27 advantage.
The Knights weren't done either.
Opening the third quarter, Wells got rolling quickly and threw down his second dunk off a Clay City turnover and on three straight possessions, the Knights got a 3-pointer from Brinn Meunier, a score off a break from Brodee Miller and another 3-pointer from Meunier. Miller would then follow with a rebound basket and before most fans got back from the concession stand, the lead had grown to 52-27 and completed a 29-2 run spanning two quarters.
"We defended and we came with intensity," commented Northview coach Mitch Lancaster. "I saw a purpose with the team (tonight). I was really disappointed in the South game, but the kids played hard, not just on the offensive end, but on the defensive end too."
Stephen Johnson scored on a layin, but the Knights answered with a Timm 3-pointer to up the score to 55-29. Garrett Thatcher followed with a jumper for the Eels and Josie Vansickle got to the free throw line for two free throws to get the Eels back to within 55-33.
Thatcher scored two more baskets in the period and Vansickle added with a drive, but Northview countered by getting the ball inside to Wells who pulled down a rebound and scored on a putback and completed a three-point play. Wells would score 20 points in the game and pull down 12 rebounds for the Knights.
The Eels would get within 62-45 to open the fourth quarter as Johnson scored and was fouled for a three-point play and Joel Farmer followed with his own three-point play to complete an 8-0 run for the Eels.
Aiding the cause was an uncharacteristic 0-5 streak from the field to open the period after hitting 67 percent (24-of-36) through three quarters. However, it wasn't enough as Wells followed with five points in a clinching 9-2 run to cap the decision.
The Knights held Clay City's leading scorer, Vansickle, to just six points and answered 16 points from Johnson with 13 from Timm, 17 from Stuckey (16 in the first half) and eight from Miller.
"Brodee had his best game of the year," said Lancaster. "He gave us a big lift."
"Overall I look at it as playing a team at the 4A level and as a learning experience," said McVay afterwards. "Northview was more aggressive to the loose ball. Your not going to beat the big dogs if you let them be the aggressor."
Next up for the Knights (5-8 overall) is a boys and girls doubleheader on Saturday against conference foe South Vermillion at home. The Eels (6-5 overall will travel to Sullivan on Friday night for a 6:30 JV start.
In the JV contest, Clay City's Tyler Moon hit two-of-three free throws after being fouled on a 3-point attempt to send the game into overtime. However, the Knights got two key free throws from Caleb Whitman and a hoop from Tyler Coltharp to pull out a 38-34 win.
Coltharp was the game's top scorer with 13 followed by Trey Horn's eight and five apiece from Hunter Reberger and Nick Lancaster.
Jordan Defore led the Eels with nine followed by eight from Will Kennedy and six each from Kyler Rhodes and Moon.