Times Sports Editor
CLAY CITY -- Only time will tell if Thursday's win by the Clay City Eels over visiting Sullivan, will be a game that the Eels can circle as one that propels the team to a successful finish. However, at least for one night, Clay City can revel in a 46-38 victory that came in as complete an effort as the Eels have had this season.
The Eels were staring down a Sullivan team that boasted one of the best post players that they've seen this season in 6'1 Golden Arrows' freshman, Rhagen Smith.
The center came in averaging nearly 17 ppg. and over eight boards per contest and had a decided size advantage in the post, but Clay City coach Chris Ames and his staff went to a plan the Eels used against a familiar foe in Linton's Stephanie Fougerousse.
"Our assistant coaches, similar to the Linton game with their big (Stephanie Fougerousse), had the same game plan with Rhagen Smith," Ames said. "We had the girls work hard on digging in the post and knowing when to close out on shooters and we were really focused for 32 minutes on doing that."
While Smith hit her averages with 21 points and eight rebounds, the Eels did an outstanding job on limiting the damage the rest of the Arrows did in the game.
Clay City allowed just one other Sullivan player to score more than three points in the game.
The Eels got started with some perimeter shooting in the first quarter as Carmela Roeschlein, Brielle Drelick and Kelly McCullough each hit 3-pointers as Clay City grabbed a 13-6 lead after one quarter.
Ames felt that his team was fully capable of that sort of shooting performance and that it helped keep the Arrows honest while playing defense.
"We shoot a lot of shots even before practice starts and at halftime that's what we said, that's why we shoot those (practice) shots because when we can get five girls out there as a threat it spreads (the defense) out and it makes everybody a better player," Ames said.
Though the Eels held the lead, Roeschlein was forced to the sideline for nearly the entire second quarter with her second foul, but her teammates didn't miss a beat.
Sloan Miller came into the game and added four points along with some great hustle that resulted in two boards and a block.
Her contribution was invaluable according to Ames.
"If you ask me, she was a reason we won this game," Ames said. "She did a great job. She's one of those players that comes into practice and busts it everyday. I was going to put her in for a couple of minutes, but I just couldn't take her out."
Miller had help to as McCullough drilled another 3-pointer and added a two-point bucket as Clay City maintained its lead at the mid-point, 22-17.
In the second half, Smith opened the quarter with a nice 10-foot jumper as part of a six-point flurry to get the Arrows within 24-23. Delaney Gadberry had a chance to give Sullivan its first lead at the line, but missed both opportunities. Roeschlein answered with a score and McCullough's score off an inbound play gave the Eels a 30-25 lead at the end of the quarter.
The Eels extended their lead to start the fourth period as Roeschlein scored on a drive and a Sullivan turnover, one of 23 by the Arrows in the game, led to a score by Drelick and a 34-25 Clay City lead.
The Arrows had another rush in them and a score by Joscelyn Mann in transition sparked a 5-0 run to get Sullivan within 34-30.
Roeschlein hit two free throws, but an Eels turnover gave Mann a breakaway, but the Arrows' junior missed the shot. Allie Miller was fouled on the rebound and she hit both her shots and the lead ballooned back to 38-30 with 3:58 left.
Sullivan got within 38-32 after an offensive putback by Smith, but the Eels four free throws over the next three minutes to boost the lead to 42-32.
Sullivan got a 3-pointer each from Caelan Jones and Mann, but the Eels' lead proved too great to overcome.
"When you have a successful night it helps the kids to buy in to what we're teaching and they think, 'well maybe we are heading in the right direction,' and that's the way we're going to use this," Ames said.
Roeschlein led the Eels with 16 points and Drelick posted 12 points and 10 rebounds. McCullough added 10 points and six rebounds in the victory.
The win improves the Eels to 9-8 overall with a county battle at home with Northview on Tuesday.
At Clay City
Jones 1-7 0-0 3, Mann 4-11 1-2 12, Benninfield 1-4 1-1 3, Gadberry 0-4 0-2 0, Smith 7-17 4-6 20, Burr 0-1 0-0 0, Walters 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 13-44 6-11 38.
Clay City (46)
Roeschlein 4-6 7-8 16, Drelick 3-8 5-8 12, Reed 1-3 0-0 2, A.Miller 0-11 2-2 2, McCullough 4-6 0-2 10, S.Miller 2-4 0-0 4, Booe 0-0 0-0 0, Gossage 0-0 0-0 0, Dayhuff 0-0 0-0 0, Riggs 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 14-38 14-20 46.
3-point fieldgoals -- Sl 4-10 (Mann 3-6, Jones 1-4), CC 4-10 (McCullough 2-2, Roeschlein 1-2, Drelick 1-1, A.Miller 0-5). Total Rebounds -- Sl 28 (Smith 8), CC 35 (Drelick 10, McCullough 6). Total Fouls -- Sl 14, CC 8. Turnovers -- Sl 23, CC 21.
JV game: Sullivan wins 34-12.