Times Sports Editor
LINTON -- Defense sparked the Clay City Eels to a 52-36 victory on the road at Linton on Thursday night and enabled the 5-3 Eels to remain unbeaten in Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conference play.
Clay City held a very tenuous 31-29 lead with 4:33 remaining in the third quarter after the Miners' Bradlea Beard was fouled on a 3-point attempt and hit all three from the line. However, the Eels clamped down at the defensive end and held the Miners scoreless over the next 8:57 of the game before Savannah Mason knocked down a short jumper with 3:36 left in the game. At that point, Clay City had ran off 15 unanswered points and had salted the game away by hitting 18-of-21 (86 percent) second half free throws to take a 44-31 lead.
"We were in all sorts of foul trouble early because Linton was being very aggressive and running their sets," Clay City coach Chris Ames said. "We just wouldn't jump to the ball and (Bradlea Beard) hit those three (free throws). We talked at halftime because the last nine or 10 possessions of the first half, (Linton) only had a couple of points because we were down six or seven (points). We talked about shutting them down possession after possession and that's what we've been working on in practice. The last couple of games we've had much better effort."
Foul trouble was a big problem for both teams throughout the game as Clay City's Brielle Drelick missed the entire second quarter after picking up her second foul and Abby Reed missed nearly the entire fourth quarter. That's not to mention that the Eels were without starting forward Allie Miller due to a foot injury.
Down three starters, the Eels' bench came through with a bevy of quality minutes as Alex Wolfe grabbed five rebounds in the game, Michaela Riggs and Callie Dayhuff each played key minutes along with Danielle Gossage.
"Without Allie Miller, I thought our role players were very good tonight," Ames said. "Alex Wolfe did a tremendous job for us and she's a freshman especially in a tight game like that. Callie Dayhuff was very good and I can't say enough about Michaela Riggs stepping up and filling Allie's role and being strong with the basketball."
Clay City rallied from down six points in the first half to take a 22-21 lead at halftime on the strength of a scoring barrage by Carmela Roeschlein, who had seven of her game-high 29 points in the second quarter.
With Drelick on the bench, Roeschlein also went strong to the boards to grab a game-high seven in the contest.
After being whistled for 13 fouls in the first half, the situation didn't get any better in the second half for Linton as three players were saddled with three fouls just two minutes into the third quarter. The result was the fact that the Eels were in the bonus early and often during the third quarter run that put Clay City in control.
After Beard was fouled and hit three free throws to narrow the lead to 31-29, Roeschlein answered with a bucket and Riggs fed Drelick off an inbound play for a lay-up. A Miners' turnover led to Roeschlein sinking a pair of free throws to extend the gap to 37-29 heading to the final quarter.
In the fourth period, Madison Booe nailed a jumper just inside the 3-point line, Drelick hit a free throw and Roeschlein sank four straight free throws to extend the gap to 44-29 with 3:36 left.
From there, the Eels were able to control the clock and hit nine-of-10 free throws in the final quarter to finish off the SWIAC victory.
Drelick had 12 for the Eels and Abby Reed posted five in the victory as Clay City improves to 5-3 overall and 3-0 in the SWIAC. The Eels are back in action on Monday in another conference road battle, this one at North Central.
Clay City (52)
Roeschlein 5-10 15-21 29, Drelick 2-7 8-11 12, Reed 1-1 3-6 5, Booe 2-4 0-0 4, Riggs 0-0 0-0 0, Dayhuff 1-2 0-2 2, Wolfe 0-0 0-0 0, Gossage 0-0 0-0 0, Decker 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 11-24 26-40 52.
Mason 5-12 4-4 14, Alsman 0-2 0-0 0, Barnes 3-5 0-0 8, Overton 1-5 1-2 3, Robison 1-7 0-0 3, Beard 2-9 4-9 8, Huffman 0-0 0-0 0, Gadberry 0-1 0-0 0, Wright 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 12-42 9-15 36.
3-point fieldgoals -- CC 3-4 (Roeschlein 3-4), Ln 3-16 (Robison 1-7, Overton 0-1, Barnes 2-4, Beard 0-3, Mason 0-1). Total Rebounds -- CC 30 (Roeschlein 7, Wolfe 5), Ln 24 (Barnes 4). Total Fouls -- CC 16, Ln 25. Turnovers -- CC 14, Ln 17.
Junior varsity: Linton 18, Clay City 14 (Gossage 4, Wolfe 3, Decker 3).