Times Sports Editor
GREENCASTLE -- The Clay City Eels learned a valuable lesson about the dire consequences of a sluggish start in the consolation game against the Shakamak Lakers on Saturday afternoon.
After falling 51-48 to North Vermillion in an emotional morning tussle in the Eagle Holiday Classic, the Eels had to face Tri-River and Southwestern Indiana Conference rival Shakamak less then 30 minutes later.
The Eels stumbled out of the gates, turning the ball over seven times in the opening quarter while the Lakers poured in 17 first quarter points. Clay City trailed 17-6 after the first eight minutes and spent the remainder of the game attempting to rally, but couldn't get over the hump in a 52-47 loss, the Eels sixth straight.
A resilient Lakers squad, playing without two starters that were on the court during a six-point Clay City win early in the season, got 19-points from junior Casey Fougerousse and 15 from freshman Mikayla Crane to improve to 3-9 overall and take third-place in the tourney.
The Lakers were able to jump on Clay City over the first eight minutes, getting seven of Fougerousse' points and six from Crane to grab the 11-point lead. Clay City struggled with turnovers and a three-of-nine shooting performance.
"We started off (behind) 17-4, 17-6 and its hard for us to recover. We had just played a game and in a tourney situation, the team that comes to play in the first quarter is going to win," Clay City coach Chris Ames said.
The Eels appeared to get untracked at halftime and made a run to get back in the game.
Kelly McCullough, who pounded the boards for the Eels, grabbing 12 in the game, hit a free throw to open the third period scoring. Allie Miller then converted a three-point play and followed a Crane bucket by drilling a 3-pointer.
Suddenly the Eels were within 28-22, but the Lakers added a free throw from Fougerousse and Ames picked up a technical for arguing a no-call from the officials on some physical play on the offensive end for the Eels.
Fougerousse hit both free throws, Crane added a score and Jade Gambill added back-to-back hopes to push the gap back to 37-22.
Carmela Roeschlein, who struggled from the field in the game, hit a 3-pointer for the Eels and added two free throws with 1:39 left in the quarter, but Fougerousse gathered in an offensive rebound and drilled a 3-pointer to extend the lead again.
The Eels had one last run in them and saved it for crunch time in the fourth quarter.
Allie Miller hit a jumper and Devyn Bridgewater followed with a baseline jumper to get within 42-33.
McCullough preceded a Roeschlein 3-pointer with a hoop to get the Eels within 46-38. Roeschlein, who scored 12 to lead the Eels, added two free throws and the deficit was just 46-40 with 2:32 left.
Shakamak turned the ball over five times in the fourth quarter and the Eels forced one to get a chance at narrowing the gap even further, but Roeschlein missed a 3-point shot and Crane added a free throw for a 47-40 Lakers' lead.
Brielle Drelick came through with a big 3-pointer for the Eels on the next possession with just more than a minute remaining.
With a 47-43 lead, Crane pulled down a defensive rebound in the Eels end and mistakenly went back up and scored a bucket for Clay City to close the deficit to 47-45.
The teams traded two free throws apiece and with 51 seconds remaining, the Eels got the ball back and a chance to tie after a traveling call on the Lakers.
But the turnover bug bit the Eels too and Clay City gave the ball back, Kristi Pearson sank a pair of free throws and Fougerousse capped the game with one more.
"I'll give our girls credit, they were tired, but they fought," Ames said. ""But we do take some segments off and that ends up costing us," Ames said.
Allie Miller had 10 points despite early foul trouble and McCullough added nine for the Eels, who host Cloverdale tonight at 6 p.m.
Eagle Holiday Classic
Clay City (47)
Roeschlein 3-15 4-4 12, Drelick 2-8 3-4 8, Glass 2-3 0-1 4, A.Miller 4-5 1-1 10, McCullough 3-9 3-4 9, Reed 0-0 0-0 0, S.Miller 0-3 0-0 0, Bridgewater 2-9 0-0 4. Totals: 16-52 11-15 47.
Fougerousse 4-10 8-12 19, Crane 4-8 7-11 15, Martin 1-2 2-2 4, Gambill 5-9 2-2 2, Pearson 0-4 2-2 2, Holdaway 0-1 0-0 0, Joyner 0-0 0-1 0. Totals: 14-34 21-30 52.
3-point fieldgoals -- CC 4-20 (Roeschlein 2-8, Drelick 1-4, A.Miller 1-2, Bridgewater 0-4, McCullough 0-1, S.Miller 0-1), SH 3-3 (Fougerousse 3-3). Total Rebounds -- CC 32 (McCullough 12), SH 29 (Fougerousse 10, Crane 9). Total Fouls -- CC 23, SH 10. Fouled out -- CC (A.Miller). Turnovers -- CC 19, SH 16.