For the Brazil Times?
SWITZ CITY -- The Shakamak Lakers boys basketball advanced to the championship game of the Greene County Daily World Invitational with a hard fought 47-41 victory over a scrappy Clay City Eels squad Friday night.?
The Lakers turned to sophomore Billy Newton to get on track after a slow start. The Eels jumped out to an early 7-0 lead in the opening minutes before Newton went to work.?
The sophomore scored 10 of his game-high 18 points in the opening stanza, which accounted for all but two of the Lakers scoring output for the quarter.?
Laker head coach Ernie Maesch attributes his team showing a sign of patience in the early going to get good looks on the offensive end and not force shots.?
"Clay City can lock you down sometimes defensively and we were very patient and I'm very proud of them for that," Maesch said.
"The kids took what the defense gave them and we get a win and that's everything, that's all that matters."?
The Lakers also put the clamps down on Eels' center Will Kennedy on defense. Kennedy was held to only 13 points in the game after scoring a tournament-high of 30 points just two nights ago against Eastern Greene.?
"We focused on him, obviously. He didn't get going early," Maesch said. "I think we made him take a lot of contested shots and we didn't give him any easy bunnies. He's a great player and I thought we did a great job on him tonight."?
While Kennedy was limited, junior guard Braxton Griffith picked up the slack and kept the Eels in the game with hot outside shooting.?
Griffith connected on five treys for the game and led the Eels in scoring with 17 points.?
"I was certainly pleased with the way that Braxton played tonight," Eels' head coach Grant McVay said. "He was shooting the ball and just the fact that he was a threat impressed me the most."?
McVay noted that Griffith started the season looking to be a scorer but had a couple games where he wasn't effective and started being more passive on the offensive end. And tonight he became more aggressive for the first time since the beginning of the season.?
The game was a sea-saw battle for most of the game as the Lakers led 18-17 heading into the locker room at intermission.?
The two teams would trade baskets once again throughout much of the second half as well before Shakamak opened the fourth stanza on an 8-2 run to open up a seven point lead, which was their largest lead of the night.?
Newton received some scoring help from fellow sophomore Ethan Stanifer. Stanifer was effective from both the outside and made slicing drives to the basket to join Newton in double-figures in scoring by pouring in 15 points. Ten of his points came in the second half.?
"Newton and Stanifer without question are very good players," McVay acknowledged. "18 and 15 points from them doesn't make me upset. But for the way this game was played (the style/tempo) we had too many breakdowns and shouldn't allow 18 and 15 points."?
Another key factor in the game was the rebounding edge.
The Lakers controlled the glass and limited the Eels to only one shot on most possessions, out-rebounding them 29-18.?
"Wow, it didn't seem like we had that many cause every time that we miss one I go crazy," Maesch chuckled. "Tonight I thought our guard did a better job of following their shots and getting the long rebounds."?
The Eels, despite being out-rebounded and shooting a woeful 32 percent from the field, compared to 50 percent from their counterparts, still had a fighting chance in the final seconds.?
With the Lakers holding a 46-41 lead with 10 seconds left in the game, Griffith took a shot from behind the arc on the left wing, the shot went halfway down before bouncing out and the rebound was secured by Newton.
Stanifer was fouled with :04 remaining in the game and sank 1-of-2 from the charity stripe to seal the final score.?
With the win the Lakers will face Vincennes Rivet at 7:30 p.m. for the championship, while the Eels will battle North Central for the consolation championship at 6:00 p.m.
CLAY CITY (41)
Braxton Griffith 5-11 2-3 17, Kevin Cook 1-4 0-0 2, Will Kennedy 6-20 0-2 13, Kyler Rhodes 1-7 0-0 3, Jordan Defore 2-7 0-0 4, Gary Payne 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 16-50 FG 2-5 FT 41 TP.?
James Marlow 0-0 2-4 2, Tyler Richardson 0-2 0-0 0, John Smith 1-4 1-3 4, Jacob Stevenson 0-1 0-0 0, Ethan Stanifer 6-14 1-2 15, Billy Newton 6-8 6-8 18, Jaret May 4-5 0-0 8. Totals 17-34 FG 10-17 FT 47 TP.??
3-point goals -- Clay City 7 (Griffith 5, Kennedy 1, Rhodes 1) Shakamak 3 (Stanifer 2, Smith 1). Rebounds -- Clay City 18 (Rhodes 5) Shakamak 29 (Newton 9). Steals -- Clay City 7 (Defore 3) Shakamak 7 (Stanifer 2). Fouls -- Clay City 16 Shakamak 11. Turovers -- Clay City 8 Shakamak 15.