Times Sports Editor
SULLIVAN -- Two out of three isn't bad and on Friday night, Clay City won the war in the paint and the free throw line to take a 54-40 road win over Sullivan.
Never mine that the Arrows sank nine 3-pointers in the game, it was the Eels' dominance on the glass (28 to 14 rebound edge) and Clay City hit eight more free throws in the victory.
"We felt like the combination of points in the paint and free throws, whoever won that would win the game," said Eels' coach Grant McVay.
Sullivan was able to limit junior Will Kennedy, Clay City's leading scorer, to just nine points by employing a box-and-one defense in the game. But the Eels got outstanding efforts from the rest of their lineup in the win.
"Ultimately (Sullivan) shooting three's kept them on the perimeter and kept the pace in our favor," said McVay.
Sullivan's 3-point shooting kept them in the game and within one point heading into the fourth quarter.
But the' Kyler Rhodes started the fourth quarter with a steal and a driving lay-up that ended in a three-point play, but Austin Nash answered with a 3-pointer for Sullivan.
Clay City followed with a 10-0 run sparked by a drive from Jordan Defore and another hoop by the junior. Kennedy went baseline for another score, Levi Seymour followed with two free throws and senior Kevin Cook drove the baseline for a 46-38 Eels' lead.
Defore had 18 points and nine rebounds to lead the team in both categories in the Eels' seventh win in 10 games.
"(Jordan) Defore got us off to a good start against the box-and-one," said McVay. "He was looking to create and Orry (Heffner) came in and did some good things.
Heffner scored four early points in the game as Clay City stayed within 14-9 after the first quarter.
The Eels then got some 3-point shooting of their own, one each from Rhodes and Defore to take a 21-18 lead at halftime.
Clay City hit five-of-eight field goals in the third quarter, but Sullivan started getting hot from the perimeter, dropping in four long-range shots to narrow the lead to 33-32 heading to the final period.
The fourth quarter belonged to the Eels who hit seven-of-nine from the field and all seven of their free throws to pull away despite Nash knocking in two more of the Arrows nine 3-pointers.
Kevin Cook scored six of his eight points in the fourth quarter to lead the final charge for the Eels.
"Kevin did a better job of using his athleticism and making good decisions," said McVay of his senior guard.
Though Kennedy was held to half of his usual 18 ppg. average, his teammates provided a 16-of-28 (57 percent) shooting performance in the victory.
The Eels JV dropped a 47-39 decision despite 17 points from Tyler Bridgewater and 15 from Ethan Shaw.
The Eels improve to 9-4 overall and will host North Daviess on Friday beginning with a 6 p.m. junior varsity game.
Clay City (54)
Cook 3-5 2-2 8, Seymour 1-1 4-4 6, Kennedy 4-10 1-2 9, Rhodes 3-7 1-1 9, Defore 8-12 1-3 18, Higgins 0-0 0-0 0, Heffner 1-1 2-2 4, Payne 0-0 0-0 0, Griffith 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 20-38 11-14 54.
Boyd 2-2 0-0 6, Hiatt 1-8 0-0 3, Willis 3-7 0-0 8, Smith 2-4 0-0 5, Thompson 1-2 2-2 4, V.Bedwell 0-1 0-0 0, Turner 1-3 0-0 2, D.Bedwell 1-6 0-0 2, Nash 3-5 1-2 10. Totals: 14-38 3-4 40.
3-point fieldgoals -- CC 3-12 (Defore 1-1, Rhodes 2-5, Griffith 0-2, Kennedy 0-3, Cook 0-1), SL 9-18 (Nash 3-4, Boyd 2-2, D.Bedwell 0-2, Hiatt 1-7, Smith 1-2, Turner 0-1). Total Rebounds -- CC 28 (Defore 9), SL 14 (Smith 4). Total Fouls -- CC 11, SL 16. Turnovers -- CC 16, SL 18.