Times Sports Editor
GREENCASTLE -- The Clay City hadn't stepped onto the court for a game against another opponent for two weeks when it took on Cascade in the opening game of the South Putnam Tourney on Friday night.
Apparently, the Eels had been chomping to see some unfamiliar faces looking back at them.
Clay City got double-digit scoring from three different players and nine from another on the way to a 60-52 victory that puts them in the championship game tonight at approximately 6 p.m.
Senior Jordan Defore was quite throughout much of the game, tallying just four points over the first three quarters. However, he came to life in the final quarter, which didn't seem to surprise coach Grant McVay much.
"(Jordan) Defore came to school today with a smile on his face and said he was ready to play tonight," the Eels' coach said.
Defore took awhile to get going as Will Kennedy rang up seven of his 13 points in the first quarter while Clay City took a 19-13 advantage.
But it was Defore and Logan Higgins, who took over the brunt of the scoring load in the final quarter of a 41-35 game.
Higgins scored off a drive to open the quarter before an answering tally from Cascade. Defore then got to the line for two free throws, Kennedy scored on a drive after a Cascade turnover and Defore grabbed a rebound and the put back for a 49-37 lead. He followed with his sixth-point of the quarter for a 14-point advantage that Cascade wasn't quite able to rally from.
"The kids did a better job as far as having purpose," McVay said. "We were attacking the basket fairly well."
Cascade did mount a small rally late in the game as Kyle Spencer followed a pair of free throws from Dylan Alltop with 1:19 remaining, by scoring on a drive and adding a 3-pointer with under a minute left.
Leading just 56-50, Higgins and Kennedy both capped the game with two free throws apiece.
Kennedy scored seven of his 13 points in the first quarter to get Clay City rolling. Braxton Griffith and Kyler Rhodes each knocked home 3-pointers to extend the Eels to a six-point lead after the first eight minutes.
Despite the early lead, McVay admitted his team was a bit rusty after the long hiatus.
"Not playing the Cloverdale game (canceled do to weather) and not practicing that week, I told them that there's nothing like being in action to get your timing back," McVay said.
That aforementioned timing was a bit rusty in the second quarter as each team combined for 14 turnovers, but Clay City made up for that with some high percentage free throw shooting in the game.
Clay City sank 14-of-18 (78 percent) from the charity stripe to help overcome 17 turnovers and pick up its third win of the season.
Braxton Griffith scored nine points for the Eels, who also got 13 apiece from Kennedy and Higgins. Levi Seymour tallied six with Orry Heffner scoring five.
The Eels are now 3-3 overall while Cascade drops to 1-6 overall. Tourney play continues all day at South Putnam with a girls' tourney involving Clay City, Shakamak, North Vermillion and the host Eagles. Clay City faces North Vermillion in the girls' second game at 10:45 a.m. The Clay City boys' team plays in the title game at 6 p.m.
South Putnam Tournament
Clay City (60)
Griffith 3-10 1-2 9, Seymour 2-4 2-2 6, Kennedy 4-11 4-4 13, Defore 4-6 3-5 11, Rhodes 1-3 0-0 3, Higgins 5-6 3-3 13, Heffner 2-4 1-2 5, Newton 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 21-44 14-18 60.
Guthrie 5-11 1-3 12, Waggoner 2-4 0-0 5, Heimansohn 4-6 0-0 8, Arthur 1-5 0-0 2, Spencer 2-8 0-0 5, Pelley 3-3 3-6 8, Dunn 5-8 0-1 10, Alltop 0-2 2-2 2. Totals: 22-47 5-12 52.
3-point fieldgoals -- CC 4-9 (Griffith 2-5, Rhodes 1-2, Kennedy 1-2), Cas 3-11 (Spencer 1-6, Guthrie 1-2, Waggoner 1-2, Alltop 0-1). Total Rebounds -- CC 31 (Kennedy 10, Defore 6), Cas 23 (Dunn 4, Pelley 4). Total Fouls -- CC 12, Cas 19. Fouled out -- Cas (Waggoner, Arthur). Turnovers -- CC 17, Cas 15.