Times Sports Editor
DUGGER -- Thursday's win for Clay City's girls was a long time coming for the program.
The Eels scored a 63-60 win over Union (Dugger) on the road that clinched at least a share of the school's first girls' Tri-River Conference championship with a 4-1 record.
Afterwards, coach Keith Jones exhaled with a smile on his face and commented, "This feels pretty good."
The win was fittingly, powered by seniors as Mardi Steiner scored a game-high 19 points, including four 3-pointers and Emily Reed added 17 as Union focused on shutting down the powerful post game of the Eels.
Britney Glass still had a double-double for the Eels, tallying 10 points and 12 rebounds and Angie Camp added just four, but this season's success has been all about balance for Clay City.
"Angie scored 28 points against them last year and I think our girls like it when a team keys on one player," said Keith Jones. "They figure that it's their night to score."
Indeed that's what happened as Union concentrated on doubling down on Glass in the paint and were all over Camp when she touched the ball. However, on Thursday, Steiner found her stroke from the outside, drilling three straight 3-pointers in the first half.
The fourth quarter saw the lead see-saw between the two teams before Clay City took control when Glass sank two free throws and Steiner followed by nailing a 3-pointer to take a 49-45 lead.
The lead grew to 52-47 when Glass added another free throw near the mid-point of the fourth quarter.
Union came back with six straight points from MaKaylee Pirtle to grab a 55-54 lead with 3:20 to go, but Glass answered with two free throws and Angie Camp was fouled after grabbing one of her seven boards. The senior forward added two free throws to push the lead to 58-55.
Freshman Ashli Scott was tough for the Eels to handle from the perimeter, hitting her fourth 3-pointer of the game, the last one tied the score at 60-all with less than two minutes left.
From there however, Reed hit one-of-two free throws and then stole the inbound pass, got fouled and hit another free throw for a 62-60 lead.
Clay City weathered a couple of late attempts at the tie from Union junior Megan Gambill, but Lydia Farmer grabbed a huge rebound on the last misfire and Steiner added a clinching free throw for the victory.
"I'm proud of all these kids," said Jones. "But especially for these seniors. Union is a tough place to play and they really hung in there."
The JV also came up with a big win, taking a 40-27 decision, led by 18 points from Haley Bryan and four points each from Sloan Miller, Shelby Targett, Lindsey Hughbanks, Chantel Narlock and Chelsea Withrow.
The 7-3 Eels will now take a break until competing in the South Putnam Tourney on Dec. 29.
Clay City (63)
Glass 2-5 6-10 10, Reed 5-9 6-9 17, Steiner 6-12 3-4 19, Farmer 5-8 0-0 10, Camp 0-3 4-6 4, Targett 1-2 1-2 3. Totals: 19-39 20-31 63.
Scott 5-9 1-2 15, Parr 3-5 2-2 8, Pirtle 6-22 6-7 18, Gambill 6-21 0-2 12, Siscoe 3-3 0-0 6, Smith 0-1 0-0 0, Nicol 0-3 1-6 1, Street 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 23-63 10-19 60.
3-point fieldgoals -- CC 5-11 (Steiner 4-8, Reed 1-3), UN (4-11 (Scott 4-7, Gambill 0-4). Total Rebounds -- CC 38 (Glass 12, Camp 7), UN 25 (Scott 7). Total Fouls -- CC 15, UN 23. Fouled out -- UN (Scott, Parr, Gambill). Turnovers -- CC 20, UN 9.