Times Sports Editor
CLAY CITY -- The evening began with a bang at Clay City High School and ended with a swish.
Before the junior varsity game could even get underway, a bus that had delivered the Rockville girls' basketball team backed into the Clay City High School Gymnasium. Though there was no injuries in the collision, the incident provided an odd beginning to the evening.
Senior Devyn Bridgewater made sure the night ended with plenty of smiling faces in the Clay City stands.
Trailing by one, 46-35 with 11.4 seconds remaining in the game, the Eels inbounded the ball in the Rox end looking for the winning hoop. The ball went to Bridgewater, but was bobbled and squirted free as valuable seconds ticked away. Eels' junior Kelly McCullough corralled the ball and calmly found an open Bridgewater just inside the 3-point arc. With a flick of her wrist and a swish of the nylon, Bridgewater gave her team the lead on a 15-foot jumper with just 2.3 seconds remaining.
The Rox called timeout, but their final desperation chance ended with a loose ball scramble.
"We had designed (the play) for her to look for it," said Ames of Bridgewater. " But I told her that if she got it to just make a play."
And what a play it was.
That the Eels even had a shot at the win is a testament to another scrappy come from behind opportunity that saw the Eels trail 35-28 as the Rox' Lindsey Greene began making plays.
The 5'7 sophomore point guard began slashing and cutting her way to the basket, frustrating the Eels with a variety of drives and trips to the foul line. She knocked home 10 of her game-high 18 points in the third quarter while the Eels attempted to find a way to stop her.
Cue freshman Shaya Stevenson off the bench for the Eels.
The 5'4 guard's quickness allowed her to stay with Greene on the defensive end and Stevenson also picked up a key hoop for the Eels late in the period.
Still, the Eels trailed 39-31 to start the fourth quarter after a hoop from Kieran McMullen.
The Eels went on a 6-0 run on four free throws from Carmela Roeschlein and a jumper from Brielle Drelick to get within 39-37. After a free throw from Greene opened the gap to 40-37, a driving hoop from Roeschlein narrowed the gap to 40-39.
At that point, perhaps the pivotal point of the game came as Roeschlein stole the ball from Greene, who picked up her fifth foul with 4:33 left in the game.
"She cuts hard and flashes hard," said Ames of Greene's performance. "She's a great example of what we need to do."
With Greene out of the game, the Rox started pounding the ball inside to 6'3 sophomore Beth Mahurin, who missed much of the game due to foul trouble.
Mahurin scored off a rebound of her own miss and then got to the line for two free throws and a 44-41 Rockville lead with three minutes remaining.
Even more important for the Eels is that Mahurin also missed her final four free throws of the game, which might have salted the game away in the final two minutes.
As it was, McCullough hit a pair of free throws and a jumper from Drelick gave the Eels a brief 45-44 lead.
The teams traded turnovers until McMullen broke free to score the go-ahead basket in the final minute.
When Drelick missed a long shot at the other end it looked as if the chance at a victory might have come to an end for the Eels.
But credit the team's resiliency.
The Eels forced a jump ball on the next possession to get the ball back, however, as the story was for much of the first half, a turnover gave the ball back to the Rox. This one, an offensive foul by Roeschlein, sent her to the bench with her fifth foul.
The Rox inbounded the ball, but the Eels harassed and hounded the Rox in the backcourt to force a 10-second call and the turnover to set up the final play and Bridgewater's heroics.
The Eels turned the ball over 28 times in the game, mostly on traveling and double-dribble calls, which Ames credited to his team's youth.
"We get in a hurry and play 100 miles and hour when we should be playing 25-miles-per hour," said Ames. "I give the girls credit though, we've trailed in all three games and we could easily be 0-3, but we're 3-0."
The Rockville JV team came out on the winning side of a 38-31 overtime game despite 11 points from Stevenson and seven points from Danielle Gossage. Both Abby Reed and Chelsea Withrow had four points each.
The Eels (3-0 overall, 2-0 TRC, 1-0 SWIAC) hosts White River Valley on Monday in a SWIAC game.
At Clay City
Harper 0-4 3-4 3, McMullen 4-13 2-4 11, Vukovits 1-2 1-1 3, Mahurin 3-4 2-6 8, Burgess 1-1 1-1 3, Greene 4-14 10-12 18, White 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 13-37 19-28 46.
Clay City (47)
Roeschlein 2-7 10-12 14, Drelick 3-7 3-4 9, Glass 2-7 3-3 7, McCullough 0-7 3-4 3, Bridgewater 3-6 0-0 7, A.Miller 1-2 0-0 2, S.Miller 2-3 1-1 5, Gossage 0-0 0-0 0, Stevenson 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 13-40 20-24 47.
3-point fieldgoals -- Rv 1-7 (McMullen 1-4, Greene 0-1, Harper 0-2), CC 1-10 (Bridgewater 1-3, Roeschlein 0-3, McCullough 0-2, A.Miller 0-1). Total Rebounds -- Rv 28 (McMullen 9), CC 28 (Glass 6, Bridgewater 4). Total Fouls -- Rv 19, CC 20. Fouled out -- Rv (Greene), CC (Roeschlein). Turnovers -- CC 28, Rv 26.