Times Sports Editor
CLAY CITY -- For three quarters of play against host Clay City, Sullivan didn't play like a team that had won just two girls' basketball games this year.
The Arrows took a 15-point lead early in the fourth quarter, before having to hold off a furious Clay City rally for a 50-45 victory on Thursday night.
The loss extended an Eels' losing streak to five-games and dropped them to 9-8 overall.
Clay City coach Keith Jones acknowledged his team's improved play in the fourth quarter that left them just short at the final horn.
"In the fourth quarter we came to life," said Jones. "We made a run at them, but we just couldn't get over the hump. We had opportunities."
In fact, the Eels had a chance at taking the lead with just 17 seconds left in the game, but Angie Camp came up short on two free throw attempts that could have tied, or given the Eels a lead.
Instead, Clay City was forced to foul and sent freshman Delaney Gadberry to the line for two shots, which seemingly played into the Eels' hands.
Three times over the final two minutes of the game, the Eels fouled a Sullivan ball handler to send them to the line for a one-and-bonus situation.
All three times, the Arrows missed the front end and the Eels continued to pick away at their deficit.
With just 13.8 seconds remaining, Gadberry missed both of her free throws, but senior force, Emily Lahay, pulled down the rebound for the Arrows. Classmate Erika Huff then went to the line and finished the game by hitting two free throws to seal the five-point win.
"We've got to rebound, to make that work," said Jones of the fouls to send Sullivan to the free throw line. "We just didn't get the last one."
Sullivan built their lead in the third quarter with a 10-0 run fueled by Eels' turnovers and three straight scores by Lahay, who had a game-high 22 points. A jumper by Huff pushed the lead to 42-25 before the Eels began their run with two hoops by Britney Glass to end the quarter.
Glass, who led the Eels with a 19-point, 11 rebound night, took a brief backseat in the early stages of the fourth quarter while Lydia Farmer and Mardi Steiner teamed to get the Eels back to within 44-35.
A jumper from Lahay pushed the Sullivan lead back to double-digits, but the Eels re-focused and made their final push.
Glass went to the line following a rebound and hit a free throw followed by a baseline score by senior Angie Camp. Following a Sullivan turnover under duress by Clay City's full court press, Glass scored of a rebound of her own miss.
Leading 46-40, it was Sullivan that suddenly was struggling under pressure.
Sullivan ran nearly 45 seconds off the clock to the 1:30 mark of the final period before the Eels were forced to foul Annie Clark.
Clark missed the front end of her charity stripe opportunity and Clay City senior Emily Reed made the strategy work by sinking a 3-pointer to narrow the gap to 46-43.
At the other end, Clark was again sent to the line and again obliged by missing her opportunity with 58 seconds left.
Camp came through with her 10th point of the game on a short jumper with 32 seconds left to get the Eels within 46-45.
Shelby Lamb missed another free throw for Sullivan to give the Eels a shot at the lead.
Reed took a quick shot from the outside that was wide, but Camp grabbed the rebound and was fouled on her shot.
But the 5'8 senior couldn't come up with the tying free throws and Sullivan was able to escape with a win.
" I hope we can build off the fourth quarter," commented Jones about his team's resurgent period. "We missed some good shots and made some poor decisions (earlier in the game). We have to take advantage of our opportunities and we have to have confidence in what we're doing."
Reed had eight points for Clay City in the game and Farmer added six for the Eels.
Clay City will travel to Northview on Tuesday night for a county battle with the Knights beginning at 6 p.m.
Clark 1-2 0-2 3, Lahay 10-18 2-2 22, Lamb 3-8 2-4 8, Huff 3-11 2-2 9, Horton 0-1 0-0 0, K.Burr 1-2 2-2 4, Jones 0-2 0-0 0, Gadberry 2-4 0-2 4, L.Bond 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 20-47 8-14 50.
Clay City (45)
Glass 8-9 3-6 19, Reed 2-7 2-2 8, Steiner 1-7 0-0 2, Farmer 3-9 0-0 6, Camp 4-15 2-5 10, Targett 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 18-47 7-13 45.
3-point fieldgoals -- SL 2-9 (Huff 1-6, Jones 0-2, Clark 1-1), CC 2-9 (Reed 2-5, Steiner 0-3, Camp 0-1). Total Rebounds -- SL 28 (Lamb 7), CC 35 (Glass 11, Camp 6). Total Fouls -- SL 16, CC 18. Fouled out -- CC (Steiner). Turnovers -- SL 16, CC 22.
JV -- Clay City lost.