Times Sports Editor
CLAY CITY -- There was no doubt from the opening tip that both North Central and Clay City's girls' basketball team were going to battle tooth-and-nail for Monday's Tri-River Conference basketball win.
The entertaining battle went to the wire before a short jumper from senior Lydia Farmer with less than five seconds remaining dropped through the nylon and gave Clay City a 49-47 win that kept the Eels in the running for its first TRC title.
The Eels overcame a five-point deficit, the largest for either team in the second half, with just 1:30 left in the game.
Angie Camp grabbed a loose ball under the basket and got the score to narrow the lead to three. Following a North Central double-dribble turned the ball over, Britney Glass hit a mid-range jumper to get the Eels within one point with 46.7 seconds left.
Sophomore Brittainy Swank hit a free throw to push the lead to 47-45 with 27.4 ticks left on the clock to set the scene for a wild climax to the game.
The Eels brought the ball down where Emily Reed missed a shot, Farmer rebounded the ball in a scramble and put up another shot which also missed. But the senior scrapped for the ball on the far side of the hoop, getting her own miss and scored on the putback, drawing the foul as well with nine seconds left.
With the score tied, Farmer missed the free throw, but Glass grabbed one of her 14 rebounds, got the ball to Farmer on her right side. Farmer then calmly dropped home the jumper for the lead.
The T-Birds called a timeout to set up the final play, but sophomore Kate Brown's long 3-pointer missed and Glass grabbed the final rebound.
Afterward, Farmer commented that she really didn't have time to be excited about the winning shot.
"I just wanted to win. But my first thought was that I should get back on defense," said Farmer, which undoubtedly makes coaches all over happy to hear from a player. "It was a pretty good feeling," she commented about beating North Central. "Now it's just one more win to get the TRC."
No one on Clay City's roster had ever beaten the T-Birds. In fact, the Eels had lost at least 10-straight to their Sullivan County rivals, going back prior to the 2000-01 season.
"I'm proud of our girls because they refused to give in," said coach Keith Jones. "We did what we had to do to win it."
North Central led by a point, 21-20, at halftime and the third quarter saw nine lead changes as each team battled for an advantage.
Camp did a yeoman's work for the Eels in the third quarter, scoring 13 of her 17 points in the game as North Central doubled up on Glass in the paint.
"We saw they were missing Angie (Camp) sometimes. She has such a quick first step that if you blink, she's by you," said Jones of his senior forward.
Camp in fact, scored all of her team's points in the third quarter and tied the score at 33-apiece heading into the fourth quarter.
Senior guard Mardi Steiner opened with two baskets to open the quarter for the Eels and Glass hit two free throws and added a score in the paint, but the score remained tied, 41-41.
Sophomore Amber Kemp was responsible for keeping the score knotted, hitting a long jumper and adding a second hoop to tie the score.
The T-Birds put on a rush at that point that knocked the Eels down, but not out.
Brown followed with a 3-pointer from the side and Kemp stole the Eels' inbounds pass and scored to push the lead to 46-41. As the Eels brought the ball to midcourt, they were called for an offensive foul and turned the ball over with 1:30 left.
But North Central couldn't capitalize and the Eels made their finishing rush to advance to 6-3 overall and 3-1 in the TRC with Thursday's game at Union counting as the final conference game.
Clay City outrebounded North Central 39-24 in the game with Glass leading the way, but Reed grabbed seven and Camp grabbing six. Steiner had 11 points for the Eels and Glass scored 12 followed by eight from Farmer.
At Clay City
North Central (47)
Brown 2-14 6-6 11, Himebrook 2-9 0-0 4, Kemp 7-12 0-2 15, Boyll 4-8 0-0 8, Swank 2-3 1-2 5, Stone 2-6 0-1 4, Drake 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 19-56 7-10 47.
Clay City (49)
Glass 3-8 6-6 12, Reed 0-5 1-2 1, Steiner 5-9 0-0 11, Farmer 4-15 0-1 8, Camp 6-8 3-4 17, Targett 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 18-45 12-15 49.
3-point fieldgoals -- NC 2-9 (Brown 1-2, Himebrook 0-2, Kemp 1-4, Drake 0-1), CC 1-4 (Steiner 1-4). Total Rebounds -- NC 24 (Boyll 7), CC 39 (Glass 14, Reed 7, Camp 6). Total Fouls -- NC 14, CC 12. Turnovers -- NC 15, CC 20.