Times Sports Editor
CLAY CITY -- With just one regular season game remaining, the Clay City Eels are reeling a bit and even a visit from 4-14 Linton and a share of the Tri-River Conference championship wasn't enough to right the ship.
Jordan Tharp rebounded a missed floater by Evan Magni with 1.4 seconds remaining to give the visiting Miners a 61-59 victory over the Eels who have lost six of their past seven games.
"We didn't make very sound decisions with the basketball," commented coach Grant McVay regarding his team's struggles on Tuesday night. "In the fourth quarter Linton hit some shots no question. They made more plays than we did."
The game was in doubt until the final horn as a lob attempt to Will Kennedy was to no avail giving the Miners a momentum boosting win according to coach Darren Clayton.
"Evan (Magni) did a nice job to get himself a shot and we were fortunate that Jordan (Tharp) was there," commented Miners' coach Darren Clayton.
"It's nice to have a share of the conference," admitted Clayton. "(Clay City) is a tough place to play. I think this will boost our confidence."
The lead changed hands seven times during the third quarter with Clay City gaining a 52-48 lead heading into the final period.
Kyler Rhodes, who had 13 of his 15 points in the third period, hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Eels a short-lived lead at 52-48.
Tharp and Stefan Sparks combined to give Linton the lead back following a Clay City turnover. Sparks' jumper gave the Miners a 54-53 lead before Will Kennedy scored for the Eels to regain the lead.
Sophomore Logan Higgins, who hit all eight of his free throws in the game, tied the score at 57 with two from the charity stripe with 2:48 remaining.
"This is the first time that Logan has been back in about a month," commented McVay. "Braxton (Griffith) and Logan are two of our best basketball players. Logan gives us a lot of length on defense and on the boards."
Senior Jayton Powell answered for the Miners on a pull-up jumper before two more free throws from Higgins tied the score once again with 1:54 left.
Both offenses struggled to maintain possession down the stretch with Linton turning the ball over with 45 seconds left, but the Eels returned the favor with just 10 seconds left in the game.
Clayton called a timeout with 6.3 seconds left to set up the final play and Tharp's rebound proved to be the final points.
The Eels got the ball over halfcourt and called timeout with 0.7 seconds left, but a final lob to Kennedy was not successful.
"We've got to attack decisively and defend the ball," said McVay regarding what his team needs to do to get back in the win column.
Kennedy had 15 points to lead his team to go with six rebounds and Griffith came off the bench for 12 points. Rhodes added 15 for the Eels who also celebrated Senior Night.
Kevin Cook and Garry Payne were honored between games for their contributions to the team.
In the JV game, Clay City dropped a 32-27 decision despite 17 points for Tyler Bridewater and six from Tyler Jenkins.
Clay City caps the regular season with a road trip to Rockville on Friday night beginning with the 6:30 p.m. JV tip-off.
At Clay City
Powell 6-7 1-3 14, Magni 6-13 0-2 15, Fender 3-8 2-3 9, Sparks 3-4 0-0 6, Tharp 3-4 3-4 11, Cunningham 0-3 0-0 0, Coleman 1-1 1-1 3, Ivey 0-0 0-0 0, Gentry 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 23-41 7-13 61.
Clay City (59)
Cook 0-0 1-2 1, Seymour 1-1 0-0 2, Kennedy 7-14 1-3 15, Rhodes 5-10 2-2 15, Defore 2-9 0-2 4, Griffith 4-9 1-1 12, Heffner 1-1 0-0 2, Payne 0-0 0-0 0, Higgins 0-0 8-8 8. Totals: 20-44 13-18 59.
3-point fieldgoals -- Ln 6-10 (Powell 2-2, Cunningham 0-3, Magni 3-4, Fender 1-1), CC 6-16 (Rhodes 3-6, Griffith 3-6, Defore 0-3, Kennedy 0-1). Total Rebounds -- Ln 18 (Tharp 4), CC 22 (Kennedy 6). Total Fouls -- Ln 18, CC 13. Turnovers -- Ln 19, CC 14.