Times Sports Editor
LINTON -- The Clay City Eels played well on the road in Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conference play against Linton Tuesday night, but as is often the case when a team is struggling, the effort came up just short.
The Miners overcame a late two-point deficit in the fourth quarter to force overtime and then pulled away from the free throw line for a 69-59 victory for their fourth straight victory.
Afterwards, Clay City coach Vance Edmondson was disappointed in the loss, but believed his team played well against a sizable Miners' squad.
"I'm pleased with our performance. It's tough playing on the road, it was tough tonight," Edmondson said. "We're just a play or two away from winning that game and not even going into overtime. I'm extremely proud of the boys and how they played tonight."
The game was a see-saw affair over the first three quarters before the Eels tied the score and then took the lead on a 3-pointer from Jake Tiefel and a rebound followed by a coast-to-coast lay-in by the junior guard. The Eels tied the score briefly at 29-apiece before taking the lead on a 10-5 run to close the period.
Tyler Bridgewater drove baseline for a score, Josh Decker and Bridgewater each hit 3-pointers and Brylan Jones scored off an offensive rebound for a 39-34 lead. However, the Miners' Caleb Stuppy knocked down a 3-pointer to close the gap to 39-37 at the end of the third quarter.
Linton continued to ride the momentum into the fourth quarter as 6'7 sophomore Austin Karazsia scored off a lob to the paint and Stuppy hit two free throws for a 41-39 Miners' lead.
Free throws would become a turning point in the game as Karazsia completed a three-point play for a 44-41 lead and Ben Brown was fouled to put Linton in the bonus with 6:02 left in regulation.
"When (Linton) gets into the bonus that early and they are a good free throw shooting team," Edmondson said. "We just can't foul that much and put them on the line that early."
Linton led by five points in the fourth quarter twice before Clay City rallied on a slashing drive into the lane by Ben Denker that culminated with a teardrop that found net. Justin Rodgers followed with an offensive rebound and a putback before a Miners' turnover led to a 3-pointer by Denker and the Eels suddenly led 52-50 with 1:09 remaining.
The Eels had a chance to push the gap to three points with 16 seconds remaining, but a missed free throw left the door open for the Miners.
Dess Fougerousse, a 6'5 sophomore for the Miners, who had 24 points and 15 rebounds, drove baseline to tie the score and send the game into overtime.
In the extra session, the Eels couldn't buy a bucket, hitting just two-of-10 from the field while Linton finally began to take advantage of getting into the bonus so early.
Fougerousse hit two free throws to give the Miners the lead and Karazsia followed with a three-point play. Six free throws from Fougerousse and Stuppy pushed the lead to 63-52 before a free throw by Tiefel broke an 11-0 Miners' run to start the overtime.
The Eels were unable to dent the double-digit lead as Linton hit 13-of-17 free throws in overtime to salt away the victory.
Clay City placed four players in double-figure scoring led by Bridgewater's 14 points and six rebounds. Denker added 13 points, Tiefel had 10 and Brylan Jones had 11 points.
For the Miners, Karazsia added 20 points and 10 rebounds.
The Eels fall to 5-14 overall and travel to Northview for the annual Clay County battle Friday night beginning with the 6 p.m. JV game.
Clay City (59)
Denker 5-11 0-1 13, Decker 2-9 0-0 5, Tiefel 3-8 3-4 10, Bridgewater 6-10 0-0 14, Jones 5-10 1-4 11, Allen 0-0 0-0 0, Rodgers 3-8 0-1 6. Totals: 23-56 4-10 59.
Stuppy 5-10 6-6 19, Karazsia 8-13 4-6 20, Kaiser 0-2 3-4 3, Fougerousse 8-15 5-7 24, Eaton 2-8 1-2 5, Brown 0-1 0-1 0, Bradbury 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 23-49 19-26 69.
3-point fieldgoals -- CC 5-19 (Denker 3-9, Decker 1-3, Tiefel 1-4, Rodgers 0-1, Jones 0-2), Ln 4-11 (Stuppy 3-8, Fougerousse 1-2, Brown 0-1). Total Rebounds -- CC 24 (Bridgewater 6, Decker 5, Jones 5), Ln 35 (Fougerousse 15, Karazsia 10). Total Fouls -- CC 19, Ln 15. Fouled out -- CC (Decker). Turnovers -- CC 7, Ln 12.
JV game -- Clay City lost 28-19.