For the Brazil Times
GREENCASTLE -- Despite capturing the Eagle Holiday Classic over host South Putnam, 47-45, Clay City coach Grant McVay was talking maturity after the contest.
"We won," McVay said with a smile. "Maturity has been the number one issue with this young team since day one. Maturity in terms of how you approach the game, maturity on how you handle adversity and we are taking baby steps. Sometimes we take steps backwards but they've managed to win some tough games."
Clay City found itself behind early as South Putnam's Nathan Welty connected on a three-pointer for the game's first points. The Eels were down 11-3 when Kevin Cook converted a three-point play, cutting the lead to five. Will Kennedy scored with 1:50 remaining in the quarter, pulling the Eels within three at 11-8.
Clay City continued its strong play throughout the second quarter, with Kennedy collecting nine points to lead the way. The Eels struggled from the line in the first half, converting just 2-of-7 attempts. Clay City took a 22-21 advantage into the half.
The Eagles took the lead early in the third as Noah Boswell scored down low and Conor Frame hit two free throws. Not approving of his team effort early, McVay called a timeout and met his team on the court. After loudly voicing his displeasure with their effort, McVay sent his Eels back on the court. This was a pivotal moment on the night for Clay City.
Clay City's inspired performance continued in the third and they held a five-point edge going into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Clay City had to stave off an Eagles' charge as the quarter wore on. Up five with 1:39 remaining, the Eels looked well on their way to an easy victory.
But a three-pointer from Nathan Welty and a quick bucket from Boswell with seven seconds remaining cut the lead one. Cook was sent to the line where he converted one-of-two, boosting the Eels' lead to two, 47-45. The Eagles' final attempt came up short as the Clay City crowd erupted.
The Eels will get in one practice before another tournament presents itself. Clay City will compete in the Greene County Invitational beginning Jan. 2.
"I'm happy for the kids, happy to get the win and we'll move on and hopefully we'll learn from this and be a little more mature as we go into the Greene County tournament," McVay said.
Clay City will face Eastern Greene in the first game of the Greene County Invitational at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
At South Putnam
South Putnam (45)
Boswell 17, Welty 11, Frame 9, Masters 4, Chestnut 3, Sebanc 1. Totals: FG 17-39 FT 6-8 TP 45.
Clay City (47)
Kennedy 22, Cook 9, Rhodes 6, Higgins 3, Seymour 2, Defore 2, #30 2, Griffith 1. Totals: FG 17-36 FT 13-27 TP 47.
South Putnam 11 10 8 16 -- 45
Clay City 8 14 12 13 -- 47
3pt. FG -- South Putnam 4 (Welty 3, Chestnut).
Next game -- Clay City will face Eastern Greene in the first game of the Greene County Invitational at 6 p.m. Wednesday.