Times Sports Editor
CLAY CITY -- The Clay City Eels took an early season lead in the race for a Tri-River Conference title on Tuesday night by defeating visiting Shakamak 52-46 to improve to 2-0 on the season and in the TRC race.
With both teams sporting plenty of youth on the floor, the Eels' hit all eight of their free throws in the final quarter, including a perfect 6-of-6 from freshman Carmela Roeschlein, to hold off a final threat from the Lakers.
Both teams got significant minutes from three freshmen apiece during the game and all performed beyond their years in a tight conference battle.
The Lakers grabbed an early lead sparked by 5'9 freshman forward Mikayla Crane, who had 12 first half points. But the Eels got eight from senior Devyn Bridgewater, playing in just her second high school game after being home schooled previously.
Bridgewater did much of her work despite limited minutes after picking up a second foul early in the second quarter.
The Lakers held a 28-26 lead at the halfway point after Brielle Drelick knocked home a 3-pointer for the Eels and Britney Glass scored on a putback in the second quarter.
"We're not going to be an overnight success," commented coach Chris Ames of his Eels. "We're going to have our bumps, but I thought in the second half we played much harder and made some steps. We just have to learn to play together."
Carmela Roeschlein, who struggled with her shot from the field for much of the night, made a difference with some tough defense on talented junior point guard Casey Fougerousse of the Lakers.
Crane became the Lakers' go-to post player and was a handful for the Eels, who had lost Bridgewater to the bench for the final couple of minutes after a third foul.
Crane scored twice late in the third quarter to answer Eels' possessions.
Allie Miller came through with a couple of big jumpers in the second half, including a shot that gave the Eels a 33-30 lead.
Following a score from Fougerousse and two free throws from Marki Collins, the Lakers were tied with the Eels at 34-apiece before Crane's two buckets that were sandwiched around a jumper from Drelick.
The Lakers held a narrow advantage, 38-36, heading into the final quarter, but the Eels turned up the pressure on both ends of the court.
Bridgewater opened with two free throws, part of her team-high 15 points. Drelick knocked home a jumper before Roeschlein stole the ball in the frontcourt. Glass scored off a put back as part of her eight-point evening to go with a team-high eight boards. Her score gave the Eels a 42-38 advantage early in the fourth period.
The Eels would maintain a narrow lead into the final minutes, answering each big shot by the Lakers.
Freshman Morgan Stanifer hit a pair of free throws with 3:20 remaining to narrow the gap to 42-40, but Bridgewater blasted past a defender for a lay-in. Crane fired back, spinning away from a defender for a bucket and a 44-42 Eels' lead with 1:50 left., but Drelick went baseline for her 12th-point and a four-point lead.
Crane hit one free throw with 35 seconds left in the game, but Roeschlein was fouled and hit both of her shots from the line for a 48-43 lead.
Racing back down the court, the Lakers got a transition 3-pointer from Collins to keep Shakamak's hopes alive, but Roeschlein calmly finished the game with four straight free throws for the victory.
"She came through at the end," said Ames of Roeschlein's free throws. "She missed two early, but came through late."
Afterwards, Ames felt that his team knew they could play better after missing 27-of-45 shots from the field and turning the ball over 15 times.
"The biggest thing is that they are disappointed because I wasn't happy. But we've been in two tight games now and they are a growing experience. We made some steps tonight."
The JV team got two free throws apiece from Danielle Gossage and Abby Reed over the final minutes of the game to score a 26-17 win.
Reed had eight points, Shaya Stevenson added six, Gossage and Haley Bryan each had four with Lindsey Hughbanks and Michaela Riggs scoring two.
The Eels improve to 2-0 overall and 2-0 in the TRC and host Rockville on Monday night.
At Clay City
Fougerousse 2-8 0-0 5, Stanifer 1-6 3-4 6, Crane 10-12 1-6 21, Gambill 1-6 0-2 2, Collins 3-9 4-6 12, Deschamp 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 17-40 8-18 46.
Clay City (52)
Roeschlein 1-8 9-12 11, Drelick 5-13 1-2 12, Glass 4-4 0-0 8, McCullough 0-2 0-0 0, Bridgewater 6-12 2-2 15, Reed 0-0 2-2 2, A.Miller 2-5 0-0 4, S.Miller 0-1 0-0 0, Stevenson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 18-45 14-18 52.
3-point fieldgoals -- SH 4-8 (Collins 2-2, Stanifer 1-2, Fougerousse 1-3, Gambill 0-1), CC 2-7 (Bridgewater 1-2, Drelick 1-1, Roeschlein 0-4). Total Rebounds -- SH 28 (Crane 7), CC 29 (Glass 8, Roeschlein 5). Total Fouls -- SH 14, CC 12. Turnovers -- SH 20, CC 15.