Times Sports Editor
CLAY CITY -- The Clay City Eels played about as well as coach Chris Ames has ever seen during the early stages of a home battle against Owen Valley on Monday night.
The Eels hit 70-percent of their first quarter shots, forced six turnovers in the period and built a double-digit lead early to claim a 48-37 victory over the Patriots, which halted Owen Valley's five-game winning streak and started a key portion of the Eels' schedule in the right manner according to coach Chris Ames.
"The first quarter was like getting a birthday wish, I wondered when is it going to end," Clay City coach Chris Ames joked. "Man we came out ready to go. We really practiced well on Saturday and I think it really carried over even though this is a Monday game. I thought we really did some good things Saturday and our coaching staff do an excellent job, they don't get enough credit, they had Owen Valley down to a lot of things they like to do. (Owen Valley) was still able to get some shots off, but some of those we got a high-hand on and switched some screens and that helped us out tonight."
The Eel came out with a purpose, getting seven points on perfect shooting from Brielle Drelick, five points from Carmela Roeschlein and six more from Allie Miller. Meanwhile, Clay City' defense stymied Owen Valley, holding the sharpshooting Patriots to one-of-nine fieldgoal shooting as the Eels stormed to a 22-3 lead.
As good teams do however, the Patriots settled in and got their own defensive pressure going as the offense picked up its pace as well.
The Patriots, who hit eight 3-pointers apiece in their last two games, used the long-range approach to sheer Clay City's halftime lead to 26-17 as Danielle Matsel hit both of her first half 3-pointers and both Alissa Heaslet and Mack Evans nailed treys as well.
Clay City, which hit all seven from the line in the first quarter, only attempted one free throw in quarter number two. However, the Eels made use of their trips to the line throughout the game, knocking down 17-of-20.
"They had some injuries early, but they are playing well," Ames said of Owen Valley. "Coach (Steve) Goddard does a great job, it's a great program. Those girls put a lot of time in and you knew they were going to come at us. We got in a little bit of foul trouble there. I had two or three girls with two fouls, we were trying to feel our way through."
The Patriots went to Caitlin Leichter in the post as she got to the free throw line to hit four straight to get Owen Valley within 30-19, but Miller came to the rescue by nailing the first of two, huge 3-pointers.
Miller's first pushed the lead to 33-19 and her second came on the heels off two free throws from Drelick, a fast break score by Abby Reed and a Patriots' turnover. An 8-0 run gave Clay City its biggest lead at 41-21 late in the third quarter.
"I wanted to stretch that out a little bit and we have girls that are very capable of doing that," Ames said of Miller's clutch 3-pointers. "She hit some big shots, she's not afraid to take them.
"In the third quarter we made a few adjustments, our assistants made a couple of suggestions, they just really did a super job tonight getting us ready to go versus Owen Valley," Ames added. "We came out and really went after them and when you don't attack, you play passive and it gives the other team a chance to get momentum going."
However, Owen Valley had another run in it during the fourth quarter.
Leichter started the quarter with a bucket and Matsel drilled her fourth, 3-pointer of the game. An Eels' turnover fueled a lay-in from Leichter and Evans completed a 9-0 Patriots' run before Roeschlein sank a free throw with 3:36 remaining.
Clay City held a 44-35 advantage and were doing a good job of working the clock.
Drelick scored off a long pass on an inbounds play out of a timeout to get the lead back to double-digits and Miller capped the game with a pair of free throws with 1:12 left to seal the Eels' 10th win.
"I thought we rebounded the ball extremely well, I thought we had people flying around after it and we took the first step and beat (Owen Valley) to a lot of loose balls," Ames said.
Clay City improves to 10-6 overall with a Thursday SWIAC battle against Bloomfield on the road.
"I'm real proud of them tonight, they really wanted to win this, but we have a tough schedule in front of us," Ames said. "It makes the doldrums of early January a little more exciting."
At Clay City
Clay City (48)
Roeschlein 2-4 4-7 9, Drelick 6-8 7-7 19, Reed 1-5 4-4 6, Miller 5-9 2-2 14, Booe 0-1 0-0 0, Dayhuff 0-0 0-0 0, Riggs 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 13-27 17-20 48.
Owen Valley (37)
Evans 3-6 0-0 7, Matsel 4-4 0-0 12, Leichter 3-13 6-8 12, Heaslet 2-5 1-2 6, Kinnick 0-1 0-0 0, Hamm 0-1 0-0 0, Owens 0-3 0-0 0. Totals: 12-33 7-10 37.
3-point fieldgoals -- CC 3-4 (Miller 2-3, Roeschlein 1-1), OV 6-13 (Matsel 4-4, Evans 1-4, Heaslet 1-3, Owens 0-1, Leichter 0-1). Total Rebounds -- CC 23 (Miller 5, Drelick 4), OV 13 (Leichter 4). Total Fouls -- CC 16, OV 18. Turnovers -- CC 19, OV 17.