Times Sports Editor
CLAY CITY -- The Clay City Eels regained a bit of momentum heading into sectional play on Tuesday evening, by cruising past Riverton Parke on Senior Night, 73-38.
The Eels honored six senior members of the basketball team as Will Kennedy, Orry Heffner, Braxton Griffith, Jordan Defore, Kyler Rhodes and Levi Seymour played their final game on their home court.
Once the opening tip went up, the Eels went about business as usual, pressuring the Panthers into nine first quarter turnovers and working for high-percentage shots.
Clay City spread the wealth on the offensive end as four players reached double-figures and six different players scored eight-or-more points.
The Eels opened up a 16-5 lead after the opening quarter and extended that to 37-15 at halftime. Coach Grant McVay credited his team's defense for its success in improving to 14-7.
"I thought our kids came out and defended well," McVay said. "We still didn't defend for an entire 32 minutes, but pretty close. Our kids effort and focus on defense was very good."
The defensive pressure forced 27 Riverton Parke turnovers in the game and the Eels did a good job of protecting the ball themselves with just 12 turnovers.
Though leading scorer, Will Kennedy, struggled with his shot during the game, he had plenty of help as Griffith knocked down a pair of first half 3-pointers and had 10 of his game-high 16 points before the break.
Clay City was also successful in distributing the ball for easy lay-ins, hitting 13-of-23 (57 percent) from the field during the first half.
The second half was more of the same as Rhodes hit a 3-pointer after the Eels gathered in an offensive rebound and Defore scored off a nice assist from Griffith following a Panther turnover. Seymour completed a three-point play and added two free throws, both of which came following offensive boards and the Eels led 47-17.
The Eels also limited the Panthers top threat, 6'3 Josh Wilson, to just seven points over the course of the first three quarters.
"We did a good job of making their best player work," McVay said. "To limit (Riverton Parke) to just 38 points is pretty good."
Seymour scored 13 points and hit all seven of his free throw attempts in the game and Rhodes was perfect from the field in scoring 10 for the Eels. Defore sank 11 points in the victory, Heffner added eight and Logan Higgins contributed nine.
While Kennedy added just four in the scoring column, a play by the senior summed up what has made the Eels successful this season.
"My favorite play of the night summed up what this senior group does when they are successful," McVay said. "Will (Kennedy) got a breakaway in the fourth quarter and even in what was probably his last offensive play on his home court, he gave the ball up to Braxton (Griffith) for an uncontested lay-up. That says a lot about this senior group."
The Eels fell in the JV game, 34-32, despite a balanced scoring effort.
Brylan Jones had eight points, Tyler Allen added seven and Ben Denker, Josh Decker and Jake Tiefel each scored five.
The Eels are back in action on Tuesday at the White River Valley Sectional against Holy Cross at 6 p.m.
At Clay City
Riverton Parke (38)
Vaughn 1-3 2-2 4, McLaughlin 1-4 2-4 4, Helton 3-11 0-0 6, Wilson 4-10 5-7 14, Vauters 1-7 6-10 8, Engle 0-2 0-0 0, Secuskie 0-0 0-0 0, Yeargin 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 11-39 15-23 38.
Clay City (73)
Griffith 6-9 2-3 16, Seymour 3-5 7-7 13, Kennedy 1-12 2-6 4, Rhodes 4-4 0-0 10, Defore 3-6 5-6 11, Newton 0-4 0-0 0, Higgins 3-6 2-2 9, Heffner 2-5 4-4 8, Tiefel 1-1 0-0 2, Denker 0-0 0-0 0, Decker 0-0 0-0 0, Fry 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 23-52 22-28 73.
3-point fieldgoals -- RP 1-6 (Wilson 1-3, Vauters 0-2, Vaughn 0-1), CC 5-16 (Grifith 2-5, Rhodes 2-2, Higgins 1-2, Newton 0-2, Defore 0-2, Kennedy 0-2, Seymour 0-1). Total Rebounds -- RP 28 (Wilson 8), CC 33 (Defore 6, Seymour 6). Total Fouls -- RP 18, CC 14. Fouled out -- RP (Engle). Turnovers -- RP 27, CC 12.