By CAINE GARDNER
For the Brazil Times
GREENCASTLE -- Basketball is a game of control. Clay City controlled the first game of Saturday's Eagle Holiday Classic for three quarters but was outscored 21-11 in the final stanza and fell to North Vermillion 51-48.
For the first 24 minutes of the contest, Clay City attacked the goal and had a more experienced Falcons' squad reeling. As with every youthful squad, the Eels struggled to finish out the game, but gave North Vermillion a fight until the final buzzer sounded.
"We got a little timid, and we've done that in the past," Clay City head coach Chris Ames said following the loss. "We just got timid with the basketball, we quit attacking, we were able to get to the foul line in the first half and didn't the second half and made some mental errors. Give North Vermillion all the credit because they took care of the basketball and got to the foul line and got us in all kinds of foul trouble and that hurt us."
The Eels led 23-21 at the half due in large part to those said trips to the line. In the first half, Clay City was 12-of-16 from the charity stripe, but only attempted three foul shots in the second half.
Clay City fell behind after the break as North Vermillion came out firing on all cylinders, but that's just when it began to rain -- rain three-pointers that is.
Carmela Roeschlein curled away from the defense and connected on a three from the corner to tie the game 28-all. Teammate Devyn Bridgewater connected on two consecutive threes, giving the Eels a six-point advantage. They led by seven going into the fourth and that's when the momentum turned.
The aggressive style Clay City displayed over the course of three quarters disappeared and was replaced with a more timorous unit. That, coupled with North Vermillion finding its second wind, would ultimately do in the Eels.
They watched as shots continued to fall in favor of the Falcons and their lead continued to grow.
With 14 seconds remaining and the Falcon's clinging to a four-point advantage, Roeschlein drove down the court, rose and buried a trey from the top of the key, pulling the Eels to within one. But on the ensuing play, North Vermillion's Bethany Chew converted a bucket while being fouled. She would miss the free throw, but her basket gave the Falcons the cushion they needed as they won 51-48.
Turnovers also played a factor in Clay City's fourth-quarter debacle, a fact Ames acknowledged after the game and noted it was something the team had been working on.
"Again, one thing we worked on during break is being in a triple-treat position and being a player every possession. You can't take possessions off is what we tell them and we quit doing that and that was the difference. If you play timid, you're going to turn the ball over and that's what happened," he commented.
At South Putnam
North Vermillion (51)
Lively 16, Chew 13, K. West 10, C. West 7, Poynter 4, Axtell 1. Totals: 20-42 FG 10-26 FT 51 TP.
Clay City (48)
Roeschlein 17, Drelick 13, Bridgewater 8, Glass 4, McCullough 4, A. Miller 2. Totals: 14-42 FG 14-19 FT 48 TP.
Next game -- Clay City will host Cloverdale Tuesday at 6 p.m.