Times Sports Editor
SWITZ CITY -- Much has changed when comparing White River Valley's sectional champion roster from last year with the one that was posted on Monday night as Clay City faced the Wolverines.
Gone are four seniors from the regional finals team as well as powerful forward Stephanie Fougerousse, now at Linton. Even Taylor Kail is unavailable after an injury suffered in volleyball. With a thin and youthful roster that resembled Clay City's from last season, the Wolverines were no match for the Eels, who posted a 51-29 Southwestern Indiana Conference victory.
The Eels scored the game's first nine points and were able to take the defensive press off the Wolverines and work on some things for the future.
"That's what tonight was for, the last few games we've been in some close games and maybe didn't use the bench the way we should have," Clay City coach Chris Ames said. "So I wanted to give these girls an opportunity and that will only help us later on in the season. I want to find more minutes for other people and that was our plan, we looked at some things early and decided 'let's get everyone a chance to play."
What the Eels did do right is convert on six-of-13 shots from the field to take a 16-7 lead after the first quarter. In the second, the Eels began to substitute liberally and get a look at some different combinations off the bench.
Nearly all of the Eels had seen action before halftime with sophomores Danielle Gossage and Michaela Riggs each coming on to provide a spark along with freshmen Madison Booe and Callie Dayhuff.
Despite the inexperience on the court for Clay City, the Eels opened a 25-12 lead at halftime as Drelick and Roeschlein each had eight points to pace the Eels. Clay City held WRV to just three-of-22 shooting from the field while forcing 15 turnovers.
While the Eels could have continued to use the full court press to force turnovers from the Wolverines in an attempt to build a bigger lead before the halftime break, Ames felt that his team had more important things to work on for the future.
"I would say that if you press things a lot then you get into some bad habits because (points) come too easy. We didn't need (to press). WRV is young and we were young once too so we were able to work on some half court defensive things and try and shore up some things," Ames said. "We didn't do a very good job at times stopping (Alicia) Tally. Maybe we didn't send help early enough or didn't have very good presence in the help-side defense. (WRV) is learning and so are we."
Tally was the Wolverines' workhorse, leading the way with 14 points and did plenty of her damage at the free throw line as WRV shot 30 times from the stripe in the game
In the second half, Drelick and Roeschlein finished strong to help Clay City put the game away with a 15-4 run into the fourth period. Roeschlein hit a pair of 3-pointers to finish off a 20-point, five-rebound game and Drelick added 16 points and a team-high six rebounds.
What really impressed Ames however, was the bench play as Gossage, Dayhuff, Milner, Booe and Riggs combined for eight boards in the fourth quarter. Milner showed that she wasn't afraid of contact and forced a number of loose balls from WRV down the stretch.
"I told the girls at halftime that we didn't play with enough intensity and the girls off the bench sure do," Ames said. "You know, they are like that in practice too. I can't say enough good things about our bench kids and they really try and push us in practice.
That's exactly what she does," Ames said referring to Milner's scrappy play. "She's a good talker and she's very cerebral to the game. She understands what we want done and she understands what her role is and we appreciate that."
Abby Reed added six points for the Eels and Kelly McCullough added four points with five rebounds as Clay City improves to 4-1 overall and hosts Riverton Parke on Thursday night.
At Switz City
Clay City (51)
Roeschlein 7-12 4-4 20, Drelick 5-12 6-10 16, Reed 2-4 1-2 6, A.Miller 1-8 2-4 4, McCullough 2-8 0-0 4, S.Miller 0-0 0-2 0, Gossage 0-3 0-0 0, Booe 0-1 0-0 0, Riggs 0-0 1-2 1, Dayhuff 0-0 0-0 0, Milner 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 17-50 14-24 51.
White River Valley (29)
Lemmons 2-4 0-2 4, M. Mowery 2-9 4-6 8, Tally 2-20 9-16 14, Dyer 0-9 3-6 3, A. Mowery 0-1 0-0 0, Kidwell 0-0 0-0 0, Speer 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 6-43 16-30 29.
3-point fieldgoals -- CC 3-10 (Roeschlein 2-4, Reed 1-1, McCullough 0-2, A.Miller 0-2, Drelick 0-1), WRV 1-7 (Tally 1-4, Dyer 0-2, A.Mowery 0-1). Total Rebounds -- CC 39 (Drelick 6, McCullough 5, Roeschlein 5), WRV 39 (Tally 10, Dyer 7). Total Fouls -- CC 26, WRV 16. Fouled out -- CC (S.Miller), WRV (Dyer). Turnovers -- CC 17, WRV 23.