Times Sports Editor
JASONVILLE -- Success in close games has been elusive all season for the Clay City Eels and Saturdays' re-scheduled Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conference game at Jasonville was no different.
The host Shakamak Lakers hit 15-of-19 free throws in the fourth quarter to hold off a comeback effort by the Eels and send Clay City to its seventh loss by eight or fewer points this season. The Eels fell to 5-13 overall this year and 1-5 in the SWIAC.
"We're such a Jekyll and Hyde team. We just don't know who is going to show up and for how long," Clay City coach Vance Edmondson said. "We do have time, which is the good thing, it's little stuff that we can fix, but the boys just have to do it. It's executing and if they can ever decide they want to do that down the stretch or for a full game, our sectional is wide open."
With one of its top shooters on the bench after an injury, the Lakers never flinched in knocking down seven-of-12 from beyond the 3-point line, which proved to be pivotal in the game.
"(Shakamak) did it without one of their best shooters too," Clay City coach Vance Edmondson said referring to the Lakers' injured Brodie Crowe, who did not play. "You have to give Shakamak credit, they knocked down shots when they had to. We didn't get out and defend or at least get a hand up on somebody. It was the little stuff that beat us today, not rebounding, not boxing out, not getting a hand up on the shooters. That ended up costing us."
Clay City held a 23-22 lead at halftime as Jake Tiefel had seven of his nine points before break and both Ben Denker and Josh Decker each had five. However, Shakamak's Brock Dowell was starting to get hot with nine points in the second quarter.
He remained pretty toasty in the second half too as he opened the third period with a 3-pointer and followed a jumper from the Eels' Brylan Jones with another 3-pointer. Clay City answered right back to tie the score at 28-all with a 3-pointer from Justin Rodgers, but the Lakers were poised to make a run.
Patrick Green hit a 3-pointer and 6'7 Justin Crody added a free throw and a bucket off an assist by Dowell. After Denker hit two free throws, Dowell followed with a three-point play to lead 37-32. Clay City returned the favor as Denker nailed a trey and Tyler Bridgewater tied the score with a steal and a lay-in.
With the score tied at 37-all to start the fourth period, Green hit a 3-pointer and a Clay City turnover led to a three-point play by Dowell, who had a game-high 27 points.
The Lakers led by six points early in the quarter before Jones found his comfort zone.
After just two points in the first half, Jones was instrumental in keeping the Eels in the game late as Shakamak extended its lead to 51-45 with 59 seconds remaining.
With Clay City sending Shakamak to the line each possession, the Eels kept pace offensively as Tiefel scored on a drive and a 3-pointer from Jones got his team back to within 54-50 with 39 seconds left. Two free throws by Crody added to the Lakers' lead, but it was Jones that came back with a three-point play.
"I was hoping this was going to be the player he was going to be Edmondson said of the 6'3 Jones, who had 16 points on perfect seven-of-seven shooting. "He's played well for us and he continued to do that today. We probably should have gotten the ball to him more. I'm proud of the way he played today."
Shakamak's Dowell hit three-of-four free throws, but a 3-pointer by Denker got Clay City within 58-56 with 18.7 seconds remaining. Dowell hit a free throw on the following possession by the Lakers, but with trailing 59-56, the Eels had a chance.
Denker got an open 3-point shot that missed, but Bridgewater rebounded and fed Denker for another long shot and he was fouled on the shot with 2.4 seconds left in the game.
Denker missed the first shot and after making the second to close the Lakers' lead to 59-57, missed the second intentionally, but Shakamak grabbed the rebound to seal the victory.
"We stepped up and made some shots at the end and got some stops when we got down," Edmondson said. "We just needed them to miss some free throws and give them credit, they hit their free throws when they had to and did enough for the win."
Denker had 14 points for Clay City, Tiefel had nine and Bridgewater tallied eight to go with 10 rebounds.
Clay City (5-13 overall) travels to Linton on Tuesday night at 6 p.m.
Clay City (57)
Denker 4-8 3-5 14, Decker 2-7 0-0 5, Tiefel 4-8 1-2 9, Bridgewater 4-11 0-0 8, Allen 0-0 0-0 0, Rodgers 2-6 0-0 5, Jones 7-7 1-1 16, Dyer 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 22-45 5-8 57.
Dowell 7-12 8-10 27, Green 4-5 2-4 14, Batchelor 1-3 0-0 2, Morin 0-0 2-2 2, Crody 3-11 4-6 10, Yeryar 2-4 2-2 6. Totals: 17-35 18-24 61.
3-point fieldgoals -- CC 6-18 (Denker 3-7, Decker 1-4, Rodgers 1-4, Bridgewater 0-2, Jones 1-1), SH 7-12 (Dowell 3-5, Green 4-5, Batchelor 0-1, Yeryar 0-1). Total Rebounds -- CC 23 (Bridgewater 10), SH 20 (Crody 6). Total Fouls -- CC 16, SH 10. Fouled out -- CC (Tiefel). Turnovers -- CC 8, SH 7.
JV game -- Clay City lost 22-21.