Times Sports Editor
SHELBYVILLE -- The Clay City Eels came into Saturday's regional at Southwestern (Shelbyville) with designs on playing for a title, Brielle Drelick made sure they would do just that.
The junior guard/forward made a living at the free throw line, hitting 16-of-18 shots from the charity stripe, poured in 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as Clay City marched into the title game with a 57-45 victory against Indianapolis Tindley in the regional opener. The Eels advance to take on Jac-Cen-Del, a 46-33 winner over Edinburgh, in a re-match from last year's regional opener between Clay City and the Eagles.
"She's so athletic and such a great athlete," Clay City coach Chris Ames said of Drelick. "She's a great player, but her enthusiasm carries over and she had a great week of practice so I'm not surprised. Our bench played big in that first half because we got in foul trouble. We're expecting big things out of Allie Miller and Abby Reed tonight, hopefully all five of us.
"It's good to get over that first hump and like I said before, I think it really helped being here last year," Ames continued. "Our expectations were to get to the final game and have that opportunity to play one more week together."
Certainly not to be lost in the milestone was Carmela Roeschlein's own career mark as she tallied her 1000th-career point with 2:50 remaining in the third quarter, fittingly on a drive to the rim that gave Roeschlein her 13th-point of the game and pushed the Eels lead at the time to 15 at 40-25.
Clay City got off to a good start in the game as Drelick hit her first three shots of the game and hit all four of her free throw attempts in the opening period. Roeschlein knocked down a 3-pointer and Michaela Riggs came off the bench for two points and two boards as Clay City took a 15-7 lead.
Foul trouble for both teams proved to be a factor as Allie Miller went to the bench along with Abby Reed for stretches of the first half. However, as has been the case for much of the second half of the season, the Eels' bench gave Clay City important minutes to spell the starters.
Callie Dayhuff and Riggs each played significant minutes, with Dayhuff adding a pair of free throws before halftime and Drelick teamed with Roeschlein to provide the scoring .
Drelick hit all 10 of her free throws before halftime for 16 points and six rebounds in the first two periods and Roeschlein added nine points. While the Eels hit just two-of-three shots from the field in quarter number two, they made a living at the free throw line, hitting 11-of-12.
Tindley senior Kabrina Merriweather, averaging over 20 ppg. coming into the game, was held to one-of-nine shooting from the field, but was hard to handle on the boards and got to the line to hit seven-of-eight shots before halftime.
Clay City came out after halftime and went right back to work, going to Drelick for a bucket off an offensive rebound. Madison Booe followed with her own board and bucket as the lead grew to 35-18 for the Eels. One of Tindley's five turnovers in the quarter led to another free throw for Drelick to complete a 5-0 run to start the period.
"We got off to a great start again and that's been our calling card of late," Ames said. "I thought we came out of halftime and really re-established ourselves a little bit and took the momentum back. "
Following a pair of free throws by Merriweather, who hit 16-18 free throws herself, Allie Miller got in on the scoring with a fieldgoals in the paint and a Tindley miscue led to Roeschlein gathering herself, driving into the lane and sinking her milestone fieldgoal.
"We actually wanted to get our out of the game because a 1,000 points is a big deal," Ames said of Roeschlein's mark. "It's a pretty big milestone and whatever happens today she has that. You talk about a great player, but she's a very coachable player You couldn't ask for a player that runs the show and listens. She just makes everyone else better."
"I actually didn't even know when I got it. I wasn't keeping count of my points at all," Roeshlein said. "I wasn't really sure. I knew if we keep playing these games I would eventually get it. We just came to win."
Tindley responded behind Merriweather, who was fouled on a 3-point attempt and hit all three from the line and Antianna Terrell ended the period with three of her 11 points to close the gap to 43-31.
Free throws would be an important factor down the stretch for Clay City, which was able to connect on eight-of-10 in the fourth quarter on the way to a 25-of-32 performance for the game.
Abby Reed scored and was fouled after an offensive rebound to start the quarter for Clay City, but Merriweather answered with a 3-pointer. A pair of shots from the line from Roeschlein, who had 15 points, added to the Eels lead and two more from Drelick put Clay City ahead 51-37.
Tindley climbed back within 55-44 after a three-point play from Merriweather and two free throws from Terrell, but Drelick answered back with two shots from the line with 23 seconds left to seal the win.
Southwestern (Shelbyville) Regional
First round game
Clay City (57)
Roeschlein 3-12 7-9 15, Drelick 5-11 16-18 28, Reed 2-3 0-1 4, A.Miller 2-5 0-1 4, Booe 1-2 0-1 2, Dayhuff 0-0 2-2 2, Wolfe 0-0 0-0 0, Gossage 0-0 0-0 0, Riggs 1-2 0-0 2, C.Miller 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 15-35 25-32 57.
Indianapolis Tindley (45)
Terrell 4-15 3-4 11, Clark 1-6 3-4 5, Fields 0-4 1-3 1, Merriweather 5-24 16-18 28, Collyear 0-0 0-0 0, Je. Dotson 0-0 0-0 0, Presley-Edwards 0-0 0-0 0, Abron 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 10-50 23-29 45.
3-point fieldgoals -- CC 2-5 (Roeschlein 2-4, A.Miller 0-1), Tn 2-8 (Merriweather 2-6, Fields 0-1, Terrell 0-1). Total Rebounds -- CC 27 (Drelick 10, Booe 5), Tn 37 (Merriweather 16). Total Fouls -- CC 19, Tn 21. Fouled out -- Tn (Terrell). Turnovers -- CC 17, Tn 16.