Times Sports Editor
CLAY CITY -- The Clay City Eels had a number of seniors playing their final game on their home court Tuesday night in a make-up game against the Linton Miners.
Logan Higgins was one of those seniors and he had a game-high 23 points, but none were bigger than the final two.
Higgins sank a pair of free throws with just 1.1 seconds remaining to give the Eels a 71-70 victory over the visiting Miners.
What made the win even more special was that the Miners overcame a 14-point, third quarter deficit to take three-point lead in a see-saw fourth quarter that saw six lead changes. In the end however, it was Clay City that persevered to end a 14-game losing streak.
"We talked the other night after the Northview game about not knowing how to win and it about happened again to us tonight," head coach Vance Edmondson said. "We got up by 14 there and then we let (Linton) back in. We quit crashing the boards, quit playing defense and took some poor shots, but when we needed to there at the end we stepped up, hit some free throws and made some defensive plays. We showed some heart and got a win."
Higgins didn't do all the work himself in the game as head coach Vance Edmondson credited all of the seniors in contributing to the victory.
"That's what we needed from our seniors. He was pretty much unstoppable tonight. If he would have hit some shots early in the fourth quarter he could have had 35 points," Edmondson said. "I'm very proud of him and all of these seniors. For Higgins, his last game of the year to hit those shots, I'm proud of him."
A red hot third quarter gave the Eels a seemingly comfortable lead midway through the period as Clay City hit its first five shots, though Linton also stayed hot as both teams combined to hit eight straight.
However, it was Clay City that got three buckets from Tyler Bridgewater, who had 16 points and a 3-pointer by Jake Tiefel gave the Eels a 48-34 lead.
From there however, the Eels began to crumble as Linton began to charge behind a pair of free throws from Chase Rhoten, a jumper from Stephen Franklin and a quick score off a turnover from Clayton French.
The Eels remained in front 50-41 to start the fourth quarter, but junior Miner, Caleb Stuppy got hot too.
D.J. Newton scored for the Eels to open the quarter, but French followed with a jumper, and Dess Fougerousse completed a three-point play to get the Miners within 52-46. Tyler Jenkins, another Eels' senior, knocked home a 3-pointer to hold Linton at bay momentarily 55-46.
Linton crept within 55-52 before Higgins completed a three-point play and Bridgewater added two free throws to push the gap to 59-52.
Then Stuppy took over, hitting a 3-pointer, adding a three-point play wit 4:17 left and adding another bucket to get within 60-59. Higgins added another three-point play for the Eels, but Stuppy fired right back with a 3-pointer, his 11th straight Miner point. The trifecta pushed the Miners in front at 63-62.
Linton would extend the gap to 67-62 with under two minutes remaining, but Clay City's Ben Denker nailed a tying 3-pointer with 1:08 left.
"For a sophomore especially," Edmondson said of how clutch the shot was by Denker. "For him to step up and knock that down, it was true. All our guys had a hand tonight in doing something one way or the other on a positive note. It was a good team win for us tonight."
The final minute was exciting enough as Bridgewater gave the Eels a brief 69-67 lead before Fougerousse answered at the other end with 25 seconds left. Denker was fouled and went to the line for the Eels with 15.9 ticks left, but missed the front-end of a one-and-one chance. Fougerousse corralled the rebound and was fouled and sent to the line where he hit one to put the Miners ahead 70-69.
On the ensuing inbound play, Clay City threw the ball away and had to foul again, but this time got lucky as Stuppy missed and Higgins grabbed the loose ball in traffic and was fouled while crossing halfcourt with 1.1 seconds left.
After a timeout, Higgins calmly stepped to the line for the game winning shots.
Linton dropped its ninth straight game while the Eels improve to 4-15 with a Thursday road trip to Riverton Parke.
In the JV game, Clay City fell 42-37 despite 12 points from Colton Harbour and eight apiece from Brandon Smith and Colton Dyer.
At Clay City
Clay City (71)
Decker 1-1 0-0 3, Denker 3-10 0-1 9, Higgins 8-15 7-11 23, Tiefel 2-3 0-0 5, Bridgewater 7-10 2-2 16, Newton 3-8 0-0 7, Jenkins 3-6 0-0 8, Moore 0-0 0-0 0, Shaw 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 27-57 9-14 71.
Stuppy 5-7 1-2 13, Rhoten 3-8 3-3 10, Karaszia 7-11 1-1 15, Scott 4-7 0-1 8, Fougerousse 3-7 3-5 9, Franklin 2-5 1-1 5, French 4-6 0-0 8, Passen 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 29-53 9-13 70.
3-point fieldgoals -- CC 5-10 (Newton 1-4, Decker 1-1, Jenkins 2-4, Tiefel 1-1), Ln 3-10 (Stuppy 2-3, Rhoten 1-4, Scott 0-1, Fougerousse 0-1, Passen 0-1). Total Rebounds -- CC 25 (Higgins 9, Newton 5), Ln 34 (Karazsia 11, Fougerousse 7). Total Fouls -- CC 17, Ln 14. Fouled out -- Ln (Scott). Turnovers -- CC 11, Ln 16.