Times Sports Editor
CLAY CITY -- Ice and snow sidetracked the end of the season for both Eminence and Clay City's girls' basketball teams as each team went nearly two weeks without a game due to the frigid weather. On Friday night however, it was Carmela Roeschlein that put Eminence in the deep freeze as the junior Eel led Clay City to the sectional championship game with a 57-34 win over Eminence.
Roeschlein scored 32 points, added seven rebounds and five steals in the game and Clay City got a spirited effort from its bench to give the Eels a chance to repeat as sectional champions. The game's outcome was a far cry from an overtime victory by Clay City in the second game of the season.
"We had a lot of fear coming in tonight because of (the overtime game early in the season)," Clay City coach Chris Ames said. "Eminence has won some really tough games this season and coach (Dave) Dorsett has done a really good job."
Despite not having played an actual game since a Jan. 27 overtime win against Eastern Greene, Clay City didn't look very rusty in exploding out to as much as a 16-point first quarter lead. The Eels forced Eminence into six turnovers in the opening stanza and Roeschlein tallied nine points in the first eight minutes. Brielle Drelick added all four of her points and Allie Miller nailed a 3-pointer to send an early charge through a rocking Clay City student section.
"We had to attack (Eminence) and take care of the ball," Ames said. "When you get off to a start like that it settles the nerves. One thing we were concerned about was that we haven't played in two weeks, but the girls have taken a business approach the last week and we kind of got into a little bit of a groove."
Eminence guard Danielle Merrick came into the game averaging nearly 14 ppg., but she ran into quick foul trouble with three in the opening quarter. While she stayed on the court, she suffered through a five-point outing thanks in large part to stingy Clay City defense. Junior sharp shooter, Nikki Campbell, came in with an 18.2 ppg. average and tallied 20 for Eminence in the first match-up between the teams, but she was held to four-of-21 shooting and nine points in Friday's game.
"What we had to do tonight was keep the Merrick girl out of the middle, keep somebody on Campbell at all times, she's a fantastic shooter, and dig in the post and give some help because the (Kateland) Hunter girl does a good job of getting position," Ames said. "My assistants are very good at getting a game plan ready and watching tape for us. That was the nice thing about getting a bye, we could kind of game plan early, especially since our game got canceled last week. I'm lucky enough to have some super girls, they really listen and did a good job defensively."
Clay City got into some foul trouble of its own during the second quarter as Miller and Drelick each went to the bench along with Madison Booe. However, the substitutes held serve with Roeschlein providing the offensive spark with 16 points in the first half.
Eminence was able to narrow the gap with a jumper from Michelle Watson and a buzzer-beating jumper from Campbell to get the Eels within 40-30 and momentum was shifting.
As Eminence gained some traction and looked to make a game of it, Clay City's bench picked up the intensity.
After Roeschlein scored off a breakaway an Eminence turnover led to a transition for Clay City led by Michaela Riggs. The junior drew the Eminence defender to her on the fast break and then made a nifty pass to Abby Reed for a pretty lay-in. Riggs then took the ball herself on a baseline drive for a bucket. Another Eminence turnover led to a pair of free throws for Reed and the lead was 49-30 after a free throw by Callie Dayhuff.
"I thought our bench was great, I thought everybody played their role really well," Ames said. "We had eight or nine girls play really well. (Eminence) scored that tough shot to end the third, we had three subs in to start the fourth (quarter) and we ran off the first six points to sort of settle things."
With a 19-point lead, Clay City's subs would close out the game in style as freshman Kylee Truax hit a pair of free throws for the final victory margin.
Clay City improves to 15-7 overall this season while Eminence finished at 11-8 overall.
With her 32-point effort, Roeschlein moves into striking distance of the 1,000-point mark for her career with 965 total points heading into tonight's game against Shakamak for the sectional championship at 7:30 p.m.
Class A Clay City Sectional
Clay City (57)
Roeschlein 10-16 10-12 32, Drelick 1-3 2-2 4, Reed 2-4 2-2 6, Miller 2-5 1-2 6, Booe 1-2 0-0 2, Dayhuff 0-1 1-2 1, Wolfe 0-0 0-0 0, Gossage 0-0 0-2 0, Riggs 1-2 2-2 4, C.Miller 0-0 0-0 0, Truax 0-0 2-2 2, Decker 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 17-33 20-26 57.
Hunter 5-8 2-5 13, Feutz 1-4 0-0 2, Merrick 2-8 0-0 5, Campbell 4-21 0-0 9, Gore 0-3 1-3 1, Nugent 0-2 2-4 2, Watson 1-5 0-0 2, Moore 0-0 0-0 0, Stephenson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 13-53 5-12 34.
3-point fieldgoals -- CC 3-7 (Roeschlein 2-4, Miller 1-3), Em 2-12 (Campbell 1-5, Merrick 1-6, Feutz 0-1). Total Rebounds -- CC 33 (Roeschlein 7, Drelick 5), Em 27 (Hunter 10). Total Fouls -- CC 16, Em 22. Fouled out -- CC (Drelick), Em (Merrick). Turnovers -- CC 21, Em 19.