Times Sports Editor
CLAY CITY -- The Clay City Eels opened the girls' basketball season at home against Class 4A Bloomington North on Tuesday nigh. The Eels rallied back from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter before falling short in a 43-38 decision.
The Cougars graduated some of the size that they typically boast, but North countered that with their usual quickness, which gave Clay City problems during the middle portion of the contest. The Eels scored just four early third quarter points and then went cold from the floor as the Cougars responded with a 7-0 run to end the period.
North opened a 33-23 lead early on in the fourth quarter as Clay City managed only a lone free throw from senior Carmela Roeschlein during a 10-1 run to open what looked to be a comfortable gap.
"We played hesitant at times, but we did get some open looks and they just did not fall," Clay City coach Chris Ames said. "It's the first game of the year, a nice crowd from Clay City and Bloomington North. It just took us awhile to get going. We hit a lull there for a long time. When you aren't scoring and the other team is, it makes it difficult."
The Eels however are a veteran basketball team that has reached the regional level the past two seasons and returns all five starters this year.
So of course they had plenty of fight left in the tank.
Bloomington North struggled at the free throw line for much of the opening three periods, hitting just eight-of-16. A missed free throw from senior Cougar Erin Kinzer and two more from Grace Luce, left the door ajar for the Eels' comeback in the fourth period.
Madison Booe hit a pair of free throws with 3:48 left to narrow the lead to 33-25 and a pair from the line by Roeschlein and a 3-pointer by the senior got the Eels within 33-30 with 2:28 left.
Clay City's defensive pressure was peaking at the right time and Clay City forced four turnovers in the pivotal run.
"You can turn up the pressure a little bit when you finally hit a shot or make a foul shot," Ames joked. "I was real proud of them. We haven't been together a whole lot yet this year, but that's no excuse because we have a lot of returning players. They didn't fold. They played with a sense of urgency there at the end and that got us back in it."
Cougar junior Shaw Warfield scored off a driving lay-in to increase the lead to 37-34, but Roeschlein, held to just two points through the first 24 minutes, drilled her second trey to knot the game at 37-all with just 45 seconds to go.
However, Cougar senior Dalana Shaw came through in the clutch with an offensive rebound and a score. Roeschlein missed a baseline jumper at the other end and the Cougars, hit their final four free throws to seal the victory.
The Cougars' physicality inside proved vital in the stretch run as North outrebounded Clay City 27-19 in the game led by DeMoss' eight caroms.
"Honestly I don't think we rebounded the basketball that badly," Ames said. "We had some really good effort. There might have been a few occasions where we didn't get a body (on North), but that's still a pretty athletic team there. Their quickness is what hurt us and they used it to get around us some and sometimes got in position to get some offensive rebounds that hurt us."
We had some good looks there at the end. Maybe if one of those goes down we're talking about a different game, but it didn't and that's what makes basketball the greatest game there is," Ames added. "I'm just glad there at the end that everyone got a good show."
Clay City returns to the court on Friday evening with a 6 p.m. JV start against Eminence.
At Clay City
Bloomington North (43)
Luce 1-5 3-6 5, Kinzer 1-4 3-6 6, Warfield 3-11 6-10 12, Shaw 2-9 0-0 4, DeMoss 6-9 2-3 14, Staggs 0-2 0-0 0, Hannon 0-1 0-0 0, Tucker 0-0 0-0 0, Sampson 1-3 0-0 2. Totals: 15-44 15-27 43.
Clay City (38)
Roeschlein 3-111 7-9 14, Drelick 2-9 6-6 11, Reed 0-2 0-0 0, A.Miller 1-6 2-2 5, Booe 2-3 3-4 7, Dayhuff 0-0 3-4 3, Wolfe 0-0 0-0 0, Riggs 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 8-33 20-25 38.
3-point fieldgoals -- BN 0-7 (Warfield 0-2, Staggs 0-1, Kinzer 0-1, Shaw 0-1, Sampson 0-1, DeMoss 0-1), CC 4-10 (Drelick 1-1, Reed 0-1, Roeschlein 2-4, Miller 1-4). Total Rebounds -- BN 27 (Shaw 7, DeMoss 8, Warfield 6), CC 19 (Roeschlein 4, Booe 3, A.Miller 3, Drelick 3). Team Rebounds -- BN 8, CC 5. Total Fouls -- BN 21, CC 20. Fouled out -- BN (Staggs), CC (Booe). Turnovers -- BN 17, CC 18.
JV -- Bloomington North won 35-24. Clay City was led by Logan Ellinger's 10 points. Claire Miller scored four and Whitney Milner had four.