Times Sports Editor
CLOVERDALE -- Improvement isn't always measure in wins and losses, but in the case of the Clay City Eels, a lopsided win on the road at Cloverdale boosted the young squad to a 7-6 mark overall.
A team that starts four sophomores and a senior has improved its mark by two wins at the same point compared to just a year ago when the Eels were 5-7 following a 67-28 win over the Clovers.
On Monday evening, Clay City clicked the way that coach Chris Ames has been waiting for, albeit against a Cloverdale squad that has struggled to a 1-12 mark this season under coach Tom Anderson, who led Owen Valley to a state finals appearance just one year ago.
Coming off the holiday break from school, Ames was a bit unsure of how the team would come out for a week day game with school not in session. What he saw was his team pressure the Clovers into 17 first half turnovers as Clay City rolled to a 67-36 victory.
"You never know how you're going to react after a break," Ames said. "One of our keys was to get off to a good start and pressure them and make sure we had a comfortable lead and take them out of their game plan early"
The Eels did just that, coming out with a full court press on the defensive end, which enabled Clay City to get some easy hoops and build an 18-10 lead after the first period.
"Abby (Reed) did a good job of getting us started because (Cloverdale) was in a box-and-one (defense)," Ames said. "Carmela (Roeschlein) was moving through her screens, but Abby wasn't afraid to step up and shoot the basketball and made some shots."
The pressure continued in the second quarter as the Eels press and trapping defense turned the Clovers over another 10 times. With Roeschlein held to two points in the first half, Allie Miller and Reed led the offensive production.
Reed had 10 points before the half, but Miller was nearly perfect from the field in the second period, keeping the Clovers off-balance.
"Halfway through the quarter, Allie (Miller) was keeping the ball alive and she made some nice moves," Ames said. "She played much better than she did at the South Putnam tournament."
Miller knocked down both of her 3-point attempts to go with a two-point field goal on the way to an 11-point, seven-rebound game for the Eels.
The lead ballooned to 38-17 at halftime as Clay City controlled the boards and took more than twice as many shots as Cloverdale (36 to 17). Much of that had to do with an 18 to 11 advantage in rebounding for the Eels.
"We have to rebound the basketball and really, about every night that is our number one key is to rebound the basketball," Ames said. "Tonight (Cloverdale) isn't as big as some of the teams we've played in the past, but I thought we also had girls looking for someone to block out."
With a comfortable halftime cushion, the Eels put the finishing touches on the victory with an 8-1 rush to begin the half.
Roeschlein scored to get the Eels rolling and Drelick followed with a steal and lay-in. After Cloverdale got a free throw from Sydney Shrum, Drelick scored off a drive and Kelly McCullough scored on a jumper following an offensive rebound by Michaela Riggs. Trailing 46-18, Cloverdale used a little long-range shooting to string together a 9-2 run on a pair of 3-pointers from Paige Gutierrez and one from Holly McCammon. Clay City put a stop to the rally as Roeschlein and Madison Booe closed the third quarter with buckets.
In the final quarter, McCullough scored six of her 10 points, added a steal and a rebound to go with a high-energy period from Sloan Miller, who had five of her seven points and grabbed five of her eight rebounds.
"We talked in the locker room before the game about how we have Madison Booe and Sloan (Miller) and we're not afraid to put them in and make things happen," Ames said. "Sloan has really found her role and she's playing well and she's really doing a great job and I'm real happy for her and that might be her career-high as far as the varsity level."
The Eels didn't let up as far as effort in the final period of the game despite a large lead, outrebounding Cloverdale 14-6 and taking 13 more shots from the field. All together, five Clay City players hit double-digits in scoring.
The Eels will get an opportunity to see where they stand in their next contest, traveling to Owen Valley to face a Patriots' squad that is 10-4 through Dec. 30.
Clay City (67)
Roeschlein 5-12 1-1 12, Drelick 5-11 3-6 13, Reed 5-9 0-2 10, A.Miller 4-12 1-3 11, McCullough 5-11 0-0 10, S.Miller 3-4 1-1 7, Booe 2-5 0-0 4, Dayhuff 0-2 0-0 0, Gossage 0-4 0-0 0, Riggs 0-1 0-0 0, Milner 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 24-73 6-13 67.
McCammon 4-14 2-2 12, Anderson 3-3 0-0 6, Williams 1-1 0-0 2, Gutierrez 2-6 1-2 7, Oetken 3-7 1-1 8, Gruener 0-2 0-0 0, Shrum 0-0 1-2 1. Totals: 13-36 5-8 36.
3-point fieldgoals -- CC 3-14 (Roeschlein 1-4, A.Miller 2-5, Booe 0-2, Milner 0-1, S.Miller 0-1, Reed 0-1), CL 5-13 (McCammon 2-4, Gutierrez 2-3, Wiley 0-4, Oetken 1-1, Gruener 0-1). Total Rebounds -- CC 44 (Drelick 10, S.Miller 8, Roeschlein 5), CL 28 (Oetken 7, McCammon 5). Total Fouls -- CC 13, CL 13. Turnovers -- CC 14, CL 26.
JV game -- Cloverdale, 31, Clay City 13 (Callie Dayhuff six points, Danielle Gossage four points).