Times Sports Editor
SWITZ CITY -- The Clay City boys' basketball team might have been present in body for the tip-off of the Greene County Tourney on Tuesday night. However, the spirit was a bit lacking as a talented Eastern (Greene) squad rolled past the Eels, 65-40.
The lack of energy wasn't entirely surprising as much of the school is still in shock following the tragic death of Clay City junior Haley Bryan last week.
Coach Vance Edmondson admitted that playing following such an event was difficult for many of the players.
"This was a tough game for us to play in tonight," Edmondson said. "We came out kind of flat and (Eastern) made some shots, I don't know what they shot, but I bet it was every bit of 60 percent (actually 56 percent). Not that our defense was the greatest, but give them credit, they stepped up and hit some shots and did what they were supposed to."
The game opened up as a track meet with both squads getting up and down the floor and launching shots with efficient quickness. Clay City sank seven-of-10 shots in the opening period, but the Thunderbirds were even better, hitting nine-of-14 shots for a 21-16 advantage.
The Eels didn't have much success stopping Zach Johnson in the paint as he hit all three of his attempts in the quarter as did 5'10 senior Sam Jacob.
Clay City countered with Tyler Bridgewater, who pounded his way inside for six of his eight points. D.J. Newton also hit both of his 3-pointers to keep the Eels close.
While the Eels began to cool off in the second quarter, Eastern got even hotter as Clay City's ball handling began to fade.
Eastern forced seven turnovers in the second period and Johnson got inside regularly for lay-ups, hitting three more fieldgoals as part of a perfect eight-for-eight night from the field. Cody Sparks came off the bench and lit up the Eels by hitting all four of his 3-point attempts over the middle two quarters.
The offensive storm was too much for Clay City to overcome.
By halftime the Eels trailed 39-21 after being held to just one-of-six shooting from the field in the second quarter. Meanwhile, Eastern shot 67 percent (eight-of-12) and essentially the game was over by the halfway point.
In the second half, Edmondson sat some of his starters while his bench got into the game. When asked about whether he was resting some players as the game got out of hand, Edmondson mentioned that it was more of a way to get some of his starters' attention.
"It was a motivational thing. This is kind of becoming a reoccurring theme for us lately," Edmondson said. "We're not giving our best effort the entire game so I told them tonight if I didn't feel like we were giving the kind of effort we needed to than we were going to dig into the bench and play some other guys. I thought those guys came in and played well in the second half."
Newton led the Eels with 11 points and nine rebounds while Bridgewater added eight and both Logan Higgins and Matt Moore had four apiece. Jake Tiefel had three points.
The Eels will take to the court on Thursday night at 6 p.m. in the consolation round at White River Valley High School.
At White River Valley
Greene County Tourney
Clay City (40)
Newton 4-5 0-0 11, Denker 1-2 2-2 4, Higgins 3-7 0-0 6, Bridgewater 4-9 0-2 8, Moore 2-7 2-2 6, Decker 0-1 0-1 0, Jenkins 0-2 2-2 2, Evans 0-2 0-0 0, Tiefel 0-0 3-4 3, Johnson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 14-35 9-13 40.
Eastern (Greene) 65)
Jacob 4-4 0-1 8, Russell 2-8 3-4 8, Yoho 3-7 0-0 6, Johnson 8-8 0-0 16, Ingram 2-7 1-2 5, Martin 0-0 0-0 0, Cobine 1-3 0-0 2, Sparks 5-8 0-0 14, J.Hash 2-3 0-0 4, L.Hash 0-0 0-0 0, Hutchison 1-1 0-0 2, Higgins 0-0 0-0 0, Crow 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 28-50 4-7 65.
3-point fieldgoals -- CC 3-7 (Newton 3-3, Jenkins 0-2, Denker 0-1, Moore 0-1), E 5-9 (Sparks 4-4, Russell 1-4, Yoho 0-1). Total Rebounds -- CC 20 (Newton 9, Bridgewater 4), E 23 (Ingram 7, Johnson 5). Total Fouls -- CC 5, E 11. Turnovers -- CC 18, E 7.