Times Sports Editor
Coming off a five-game losing streak that followed on the heels of a five-game winning streak, the Clay City Eels laid the foundation for what they hope is the beginning of another winning surge by downing county rival Northview on Tuesday night, 54-48.
The win is the Eels' first in the series since the 2000-01 season.
Clay City took the lead with 1:07 left in the game when Lydia Farmer knocked down a jumper and the Eels hit five-of-six free throws in the final minute while Northview missed a pair of potential go-ahead 3-pointers in the same period of time.
Both Emily Reed and Farmer hit two free throws apiece in the waning seconds to seal the Knights' fate.
Understandably, Clay City coach Keith Jones was happy for his players after the game.
"They just refused to lose," said Jones about his team's will to win. "We've been struggling some lately, but these girls just didn't want to lose this game."
Neither team wanted to come out on the losing end of an emotional and physical game that began to brew during the early stages of the game.
Neither team had much offensive success in the opening quarter as Clay City took a 9-4 lead into the second quarter.
But in the second period it was Northview that built up a 20-16 advantage on the combination of five points from Stormi Raines and four from Spring Raines. After turning the ball over seven times in the first eight minutes, the Knights settled in and forced five miscues of their own that led to some transition baskets.
Northview came out of the halftime break with a mission, scoring a 3-pointer from Spring Raines, on her way to 24 points, and a score from Kirstin Kimball underneath. Spring Raines followed with a three-point play after being fouled on a lay-up after a steal.
Leading 28-20, Northview looked like they might be going in for the kill, but a missed lay-in attempt after an Eels' turnover turned into two points for the Eels when Angie Camp drove the ball to the hole.
That shot seemed to spark Camp's own desire to carry her team as she scored on a three-point play and after a jumper from senior Emily Reed, Camp completed the come back with another score.
"That's the point when it fell apart for us," said Northview coach Chad Smith. "We could have pulled the ball out and spread the (Eels') zone out."
Camp scored 11 points in the third quarter, not missing a shot, and Clay City went ahead 31-28 briefly.
The Knights' Erica Lee got her team even with a 3-pointer, but a free throw from Britney Glass gave the Eels a lead at 34-33 heading into the final quarter.
Northview struggled to control the Eels' inside duo as Glass went off for nine of her 16 points in the final period and grabbed 11 boards in the contest.
Northview's Smith agreed that his team had its hands full in dealing with Camp and Glass.
"Britney hurt us bad," said Smith. "We didn't have anybody who could stop her. We just didn't have an answer for her."
Glass pushed the Eels' lead out to 38-33 early in the final quarter with back-to-back scores, but Spring Raines sank a 3-pointer and Stormi Raines added a basket to tie the game at 38-apiece.
Heading into the stretch run the score would seesaw through the middle parts of the quarter with Lee knocking down another 3-pointer to narrow the gap to 43-41.
The final Northview lead would come following a 3-point miss by Lee. Crooks grabbed the rebound and fired out to Spring Raines who sank her final 3-pointer for a 48-47 lead with under two minutes to play.
But from there, Northview would go cold from the field and that, coupled with some ill-timed mistakes would give Clay City the opening they needed.
Farmer's perfectly timed jumper would give the Eels the final lead and their defense kept a hand in Northview's shooters' faces over the final seconds.
'Lydia hit a big bucket for us," commented Jones afterwards. "And Mardi (Steiner) didn't' score a point, but she played one whale of a floor game," Jones commented on his point guard.
Smith credited the Eels' play following Northview's narrow loss.
"Clay City is an awfully good team, we just got beat by a better team in the second half," said Smith.
In the JV game, Northview cruised to a 44-5 victory led by 10 points from Emily Phillips and six each from Ali Sharton, Allison Stearley and Charlie Greichgauer. Shelby Targett had all five for the Eels.
Clay City (10-8 overall) will host Eastern on Thursday night while Northview drops to 6-11 overall and will play Sullivan at 6 p.m. on Friday night.
Clay City (54)
Glass 5-16 6-8 16, Reed 2-12 4-4 9, Steiner 0-6 0-0 0, Farmer 3-7 2-2 8, Camp 8-12 3-7 19, Targett 0-2 2-4 2. Totals: 18-55 17-25 54.
Birkey 0-4 0-0 0, Sp.Raines 9-17 3-5 24, St.Raines 4-20 1-2 9, Crooks 0-0 0-0 0, Colson 1-3 0-0 2, Kimball 2-4 0-0 4, Lee 3-9 1-2 9, Sampson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 19-57 5-9 48.
3-point fieldgoals -- CC 1-6 (Reed 1-4, Steiner 0-2), Nv 5-23 (Lee 2-6, Sp.Raines 3-5, Birkey 0-3, St.Raines 0-9). Total Rebounds -- CC 38 (Glass 11), Nv 37 (Sp.Raines 11, St.Raines 6). Total Fouls -- CC 12, Nv 17. Turnovers -- CC 9, Nv 16.