Times Sports Editor
LINTON -- Playing on the road in their third game in five days, Tuesday's double-conference game at Linton could have been a perfectly set trap for the Clay City Eels.
In fact, Clay City had lost this particular game the past four seasons in a row by a combined 13 points.
There were no such dramatics this time around.
The Clay City Eels were a model of efficiency on the offensive end, hitting 66 percent of their shots for the game and used a 24-0 run bracketing the third and fourth quarters to drill the Miners, 90-46.
The victory is the Eels' eighth-straight win and improves Clay City to 4-1 in the Tri-River Conference.
"I'm really pleased with our kids," coach Grant McVay said. "We'd lost this game four straight years. Last year we had a chance for an unbeaten TRC record and lost a heartbreaker at home. I'm very happy for our seniors, this is a little redemption."
Linton hung tight with the Eels over the first eight minutes as Clay City's defense left a bit to be desired. The Miners hit six-of-11 shots from the field as sophomore Caleb Stuppy dropped eight points in the first quarter.
Fortunately for the Eels, Jordan Defore had a hot hand right from the opening tip.
The second quarter saw the Eels begin to pull away, forcing seven turnovers from the Miners and continuing to hit a high percentage from the field.
Will Kennedy took over the bulk of the scoring duty in the second period as his teammates continually found him in the post. The senior dropped 11 of his game-high 25 points in the quarter as Clay City extended its lead to 46-26 at the break.
"The kids did a good job of feeding the post," McVay noted. "We really wanted to make sure Will (Kennedy) and Orry (Heffner) at the 'four spot' ran hard to the post. Linton came out in a 1-3-1 (defense) and that changed our post attack, but there were still voids in the defense, we just had to change angles."
Kennedy and Heffner came up big, combining for 28 points in the middle two periods as Clay City salted away the win early.
Linton scored the first points of the second half on a bucket by Chase Rhoten, but it was the Eels' defense late in the quarter that put the game away.
A 3-pointer by Stuppy and a score by Jordan Tharp and one by Evan Magni got Linton as close as 58-39 before the Eels hit the accelerator again.
Kennedy scored to push the lead to 60-39 and then his steal fed Heffner for another bucket. D.J. Newton followed with a lay-in off a steal and Logan Higgins capped the quarter with a score and a 66-39 lead.
The Eels weren't done quite yet either.
Levi Seymour opened the fourth quarter with a score, Newton followed with a three-point play and Kyler Rhodes capitalized off another steal. The Eels continued to pour on the points, spurred by their defense, finishing off a 24-0 run on a steal and score by Defore and a 3-pointer from Braxton Griffith.
After the dust cleared, Clay City led 79-39 and the Eels were well on their way to improving to 13-5 overall.
All eight Eels that dressed for the game had seven-or-more points as Griffith added eight points along with Higgins and Newton contributed nine to go with 10 from Seymour, all in the second half.
In the JV game, Linton was able to edge out the Eels in the final seconds at the free throw line, 46-45.
Jake Tiefel had 15 points to lead the way with Josh Decker adding eight and Darius Farmer contributing seven. Ben Denker had six and Tyler Allen scored five points.
Clay City travels to face county-rival Northview in search of its ninth-straight victory on Friday night beginning with the 6 p.m. junior varsity game.
Clay City (90)
Griffith 3-5 0-0 8, Seymour 3-3 4-5 10, Kennedy 12-20 0-0 25, Rhodes 1-4 1-2 4, Defore 8-9 1-2 19, Newton 4-6 1-1 9, Higgins 3-6 1-2 8, Heffner 3-4 1-2 7. Totals: 37-56 9-13 90.
Stuppy 5-10 0-0 13, Magni 2-6 3-4 7, Rhoten 4-5 3-4 11, Tibbett 0-2 1-2 1, Tharp 5-8 0-0 10, Sparks 0-0 0-0 0, Fish 1-1 0-2 2, Passen 0-0 0-0 0, Franklin 1-1 0-0 2, Eaton 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 17-34 7-12 46.
3-point fieldgoals -- CC 7-13 (Griffith 2-3, Defore 2-3, Kennedy 1-3, Higgins 1-3, Newton 0-1), Ln 3-8 (Stuppy 3-5, Cunningham 0-1, Magni 0-2). Total Rebounds -- CC 24 (Kennedy 8), Ln 11 (Tharp 3). Total Fouls -- CC 10, Ln 11. Turnovers -- CC 10, Ln 20.