Times Sports Editor
Tuesday night's sectional opening match-up between Clay City and state-ranked White River Valley had a familiar feel to it.
Unfortunately for the Eels, the familiarity ended with the same result as the team's regular season meeting, a Wolverine victory.
The Eels were unable to put a stop to sophomore Stephanie Fougerousse' bruising post-game and the end result was a 67-49 loss to end the Eels' season. WRV also won the regular season contest, a 66-48 win.
The postseason win moves WRV on to the sectional semi-finals and a 16-4 overall record for the 10th-ranked Wolverines.
During Tuesday's battle, Fougerousse went off for a 36-point, 13-rebound performance and scored 13 of her points in the final period to put a halt to any real Clay City comeback thoughts.
"They aren't 15-4 for nothing," said Clay City coach Keith Jones. "They have an inside game and some players who can shoot the '3'."
Clay City trailed by seven at the half as junior Britney Glass sat for much of the first half after picking up her second foul under three minutes into the game.
Missing her presence in the paint opposite Fougerousse was exactly what Clay City did not need according to Jones.
"That wasn't good," said the third-year Eels' coach. "That really hurt us. (Britney's) one of our scorers. We had to put her back in, but she was forced to play timid."
Clay City got within 24-20 to open the second half after senior point guard Mardi Steiner drained a 3-pointer from the top of the arc. But WRV took over for a pivotal stretch that resulted in an 11-4 run.
Taylor Kail hit a free throw and Fougerousse got inside for a rebound putback followed by a 3-pointer from Kelsey Anderson and the lead had grown to 33-20 before Glass scored.
Each time the Eels tried to make a run, the Wolverines had an answer, typically an inlet pass to Fougerousse.
Glass scored six of her 14 points late in the third quarter to keep the Eels within striking range, but the Eels' options were limited by Fougerousse presence in the paint.
The sophomore helped hold Clay City senior Angie Camp scoreless until the fourth quarter.
WRV led 42-28 to begin the fourth quarter and the lead grew to 15 after two free throws from Anderson.
But the Eels had one more run in them.
Emily Reed, who led the team with 17 points, scored inside and a rebound from Glass resulted in a score for the Eels. Two more free throws from Glass and a 3-pointer from Reed narrowed the deficit to 50-39.
But down the stretch WRV was deadly from the free throw line.
Camp broke free to score three straight hoops for the Eels to get the deficit to just 54-45, but White River Valley was already in the bonus.
White River Valley hit 13-of-16 free throws in the final quarter and 20-of-26 in the game to keep Clay City at bay during the final minutes.
Mardi Steiner added eight for the Eels and both Shelby Targett and Lydia Farmer contributed two apiece.
The Eels say goodbye to a strong group of seniors who claimed the program's first share of the Tri-River Conference and also won the South Putnam Tourney as well.
Steiner, Camp, Reed and Farmer all will graduate in the spring.
"This senior group is so special," said Jones. "They worked hard, they're so unselfish and get along so well. I'm so proud of these seniors."
The Wolverines will move on to take on Shakamak on Friday night in the second game of the night after Union and North Central square off. The Eels end their season at (11-10).
Class A Clay City Sectional
White River Valley (67)
Kail 4-7 3-6 13, Borter 1-1 0-0 2, Anderson 2-6 7-8 12, Graves 0-0 0-0 0, Fougerousse 13-19 10-12 36, Tally 1-3 0-0 2, Johnson 0-1 0-0 0, Lemmons 0-0 0-0 0, Hamilton 1-1 0-0 2, Robertson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 21-37 20-26 67.
Clay City (49)
Glass 4-9 6-7 14, Reed 7-17 0-0 17, Steiner 3-8 0-0 8, Farmer 1-8 0-2 2, Camp 3-10 0-0 6, Targett 1-4 0-2 2, Miller 0-0 0-0 0, Narlock 0-0 0-0 0, Miller 0-0 0-0 0, Hughbanks 0-0 0-0 0, Withrow 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 16-51 6-11 49.
|White River Valley||14||10||18||25||-||67|
3-point fieldgoals -- WRV 3-9 (Kail 2-3, Anderson 1-4, Fougerousse 0-1, Tally 0-1), CC 5-13 (Reed 3-7, Steiner 2-6). Total Rebounds -- WRV 27 (Fougerousee 13), CC 29 (Glass 9). Total Fouls -- WRV 13, CC 16. Fouled out -- CC (Camp), WRV (Graves). Turnovers -- WRV 15, CC 14.