Times Sports Editor
The holiday season is often a time when it's easy to relax, eat well and reflect on the year that was as the new year is on the horizon. However, for county basketball teams, including the Clay City girls, there won't be any time to rest for the Eels as they head to the Eastern Greene Toby Yoho Classic to be played on Dec. 28-29.
Clay City traded the one-day South Putnam Tourney, which the team played in the last several years for a beast of a tourney at Eastern that features an 11-team field with a number of ranked teams broken into three pools and could mean four games in two days.
For the Eels, who are in a pool with Edgewood (7-4), Brownstown Central (7-1) and Bloomington North (8-2), the challenge is one that isn't so much daunting as one welcomed by coach Chris Ames.
"That's how we approach it," Ames said of playing top competition. "We wanted to go to Eastern because they have a lot of teams and different teams from different classes."
Ames' squad is 7-3 and has won five of its last six games and will get a re-match against Bloomington North, a team they opened the season against. In that battle, the Cougars were able to outscore the Eels 10-4 in the final period to escape with a 37-23 victory on Clay City's court.
That battle gave the Eels an idea of where they were at to start the season and the team hasn't backed down from the best teams on its schedule, which includes a Rockville team receiving votes and Class A's top-ranked Patriots from Vincennes Rivet.
Included in that quality is Brownstown, which is ranked fifth in 2A and owns a 75-67 overtime victory over defending state champion Austin this season. The Braves have averaged more than 66 ppg. this season and have a balanced lineup led by high-scoring 5'5 guard, Sammie Bane, who had 21 points in the Austin win. Hailey Brown is a tall guard that tallied 18 in that win and Katelyn Shoemaker, a 5'9 guard tallied 19 in the Austin victory.
The Mustangs had strung together a 7-4 record heading into Tuesday's battle with Class 3A No. 9 Sullivan and should have senior guard Laura Luther back in the rotation soon after a concussion that kept her out of a 45-28 win at Northview on Dec. 17. Though the Mustangs are still without 6'0 Angela Hacker in the middle, the Mustangs aren't small as they start 5'11 freshman Vanessa Brown and 5'9 forward Kelsey Weddle up front. Karly Thornton, a 5'3 freshman is also a threat as she sank a pair of 3-pointers in a 10-point effort against the Knights and Hannah Rommel tallied 14.
"Edgewood and Brownstown Central are in pool play as well and that's what we've been trying to do the last couple of years is play 'up' a little bit so we get better and the whole key is to get better around tournament time," Ames said.
Other teams included in the tourney are the host Eastern (Greene) Thunderbirds (6-2, Class 2A No. 14), Hauser (6-3) and South Knox in Pool A with Brown County (6-4), Centerville (7-3), Forest Park (4-4) and Cloverdale (0-8) in Pool C.
The Eels get tourney play started on Dec. 28 in the high school gym at 11:15 a.m. and will play their second game either at 2:45 p.m. with an opening victory or at 6:15 p.m. with a loss.
Toby Yoho Classic (Day 1 -- Dec. 28)
|1||Brown County vs. Centerville (9:30 a.m.)||H.S.||Pool C|
|2||Edgewood vs. Brown. Central (9:30 a.m.)||M.S.||Pool B|
|3||Clay City vs. Bloom. North (11:15 a.m.)||H.S.||Pool B|
|4||Cloverdale vs. Forest Park (11:15 a.m.)||M.S.||Pool C|
|5||Hauser vs. Eastern Greene (1 p.m.)||H.S.||Pool A|
|6||Winner 1 vs. Winner 4 (2:45 p.m.)||H.S.||Pool C|
|7||Winner 2 vs. Winner 3 (2:45 p.m.)||M.S.||Pool B|
|8||Hauser vs. S. Knox (4:30 p.m.)||H.S.||Pool A|
|9||Loser 1 vs. Loser 4 (4:30 p.m.)||M.S.||Pool A|
|10||Loser 2 vs. Loser 3 (6:15 p.m.)||H.S.||Pool B|
|11||S. Knox vs. Eastern Greene (7:45 p.m.)||H.S.||Pool A|