(Left) North Clay eighth grader Samantha Solomon (#10) goes up for a rebound during the 'B' team game against Owen Valley on Tuesday.
(Right) Shelby Sands brings the ball up against the Owen Valley defense during the Knights narrow loss to the Patriots.
The North Clay eighth-grade Lady Knights clashed with conference foe Owen Valley Tuesday at North Clay, hoping to tarnish the crowns of the 2006 WIC champions.
The Knights had a lot to overcome-- the perennially-tough Patriots beat North Clay by 55 points when they were seventh-graders and had posted a 17-2 record in 2006 before last night's game. A North Clay win would have been surprising to most, the Knights' solid 13-3 season mark notwithstanding.
So in spite of the game's outcome-- a buzzer-beater by Owen Valley's Sam Cooper cemented a 26-24 Knights loss-- North Clay succeeded in serving the Patriots notice of their improvement.
North Clay (13-4) held the lead for most of the game. Emily Phillips converted on the offensive end after big defensive plays (an Ali Sharton steal and a blocked shot by Shelby Sands) on back-to-back possessions, giving the Knights an early 4-0 lead.
North Clay led 5-1 after the first quarter. Owen Valley's Stacia O'Neal hit a pair of free throws with 1:45 left in the second to narrow the lead to 8-7, but a long Phillips jumper at the buzzer gave the Knights a 11-7 half-time lead.
The Knights held the Patriots at bay throughout the third, but the WIC champs began to pick up steam in the final frame. Cooper knocked down a three-pointer 19 seconds in to bring Owen Valley to within two, then tied the score at 18 with a lay-up on the next possession.
The two teams traded blows for the remainder of the game, but the Knights failed to score in the final minute, allowing Cooper a chance to bury the game-winning shot at the horn.
Phillips led the Knights in scoring with 12, followed by Kelsey Searing with six and Sands with four.
North Clay's second team also suffered a hard-fought loss at the hands of the Patriots, dropping the late contest 23-22. Natali Sullivan and Samantha Solomon led the charge for the B-squad with eight points apiece, with Corey Laue adding six.
The Lady Knights will finish out their season with an away game against Greencastle Thursday.