Times Sports Editor
LINTON -- Just a year removed from going winless in the Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conference, Linton ended that winless streak at the expense of visiting Clay City on Thursday night, 57-51.
The Miners got a powerful inside effort from 6'1 senior Megan Barnes, who had 15 points and 10 rebounds and rode a 19-point night from speedy point guard Savannah Mason to the win that bumps Linton's season mark to 2-4 overall.
The Eels meanwhile fell to 4-4 this season with the defeat.
"It feels great to get on track," Linton coach Brad McKinney commented. "It's a double conference win. We've had trouble getting SWIAC wins so it's always good to end a losing streak."
The Miners played well enough in the first half to edge out to a 27-23 lead as Mason had 10 of her points before the break. Meanwhile, Clay City's Brielle Drelick kept the Eels close with seven of her 16 points in the game.
Turnovers have been an issue for the Eels all season and Thursday's contest was no different with a total of 21 miscues miring Clay City's offense throughout the game.
"When you turn the ball over 20-plus times, that's a whole quarter of possessions," Eels' coach Chris Ames remarked. "That's going to alleviate your chances of scoring."
Despite their offensive struggles, the Eels came out quickly from the halftime break as Drelick knocked home a 3-pointer and senior Devyn Bridgewater followed with a quick bucket to give the Eels a brief 28-27 lead.
However, Mason sent a long range dagger into the Eels with a 3-pointer to push the Miners back in front.
As quickly as Drelick re-tied the score with a bucket, the Miners answered back with a hoop from senior Izzy Carpenter and Barnes powered her way to the line for two free throws and a 34-30 Miners' advantage.
Clay City made one more run against the Miners as Britney Glass sank a free throw, freshman Carmela Roeschlein went baseline for a floater and Bridgewater scored off a steal and a lay-in for a 35-34 Eels' lead.
From there however, the Miners ended the quarter on a 11-0 run as Barnes scored off a rebound and Mason completed a three-point play. Carpenter hit a pair of free throws and knocked home a late jumper and Barnes ended the period with a short jumper for a 45-35 Miners advantage.
The second half was where the 6'1 Barnes really began to exert her size advantage for the Miners, grabbing nine of her rebounds and scoring 11 of her points.
Afterwards, McKinney was quick to point out how important the senior center is for his squad.
"We've been looking for Megan to have a game like that," said the first-year Miners' coach. "She's been picking up early fouls and having to go to the bench, but tonight we decided to let her stay on the floor and she didn't get that third foul."
Clay City made a run to open the quarter on a jumper from Drelick and a steal and a score by Roeschlein, but turnovers ultimately sidelined any further damage.
The Eels' full court defense did force six turnovers down the stretch from the Miners, but Clay City turned the ball over five times themselves.
The Eels got within six points following a steal and layup by Drelick with just over a minute remaining, but Carpenter knocked down a pair of free throws to extend the gap back to eight to end the rally.
"We're still searching for our identity," Ames said of his team. "When things go bad we just put our heads down."
In the JV game, Clay City got eight points from Michaela Riggs and seven from Abby Reed to take a 23-21 victory.
The Miners improve to 2-4 overall, 1-3 in the SWIAC and 1-0 in the Tri-River Conference while the Eels fall to 4-4 overall, 2-1 in the TRC and 1-2 in the SWIAC.
Clay City (51)
Roeschlein 6-18 2-4 15, Drelick 6-13 3-6 16, Glass 1-1 4-5 6, McCullough 2-5 0-0 4, Bridgewater 4-11 0-0 8, A.Miller 0-2 0-2 0, S.Miller 1-1 0-0 2, Stevenson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 20-51 9-17 51.
Daluga 1-3 2-2 4, Mason 5-10 8-14 19, Carpenter 4-10 4-7 12, Wells 1-6 2-2 4, Barnes 6-8 3-3 15, Riggleman 0-1 0-0 0, Astleford 0-1 1-2 1, Beard 1-1 0-2 2. Totals: 18-40 20-32 57.
3-point fieldgoals -- CC 2-15 (Roeschlein 1-7, Drelick 1-1, McCullough 0-2, Bridgewater 0-4, A.Miller 0-1), Ln 1-4 (Mason 1-1, Carpenter 0-3). Total Rebounds -- CC 30 (Glass 9, Bridgewater 7), Ln 36 (Barnes 10). Total Fouls -- CC 23, Ln 14. Fouled out -- CC (Roeschlein). Turnovers -- CC 21, Ln 21.
Next games: Clay City travels to North Central on Dec. 15 while Linton hosts Shoals on Saturday.