By CAREY FOX
Times Sports Editor
CLAY CITY -- The Class A ninth-ranked Eels had their chances against No. 1 ranked defending state champion Vincennes Rivet on Monday night, but in the end it was the Patriots that pulled out a 42-28 win that was much closer than the final score would indicate.
The Patriots won their 35th straight game and the program's 84th out of the last 87 overall. Two of those three losses were in the state championship game.
Despite the loss, Eels' coach Chris Ames felt that his team went toe-to-toe with a Rivet squad that went unbeaten last year and improved to 7-0 this season.
"We had open looks and they just didn't go down, sometimes that happens," Ames said. "I thought we really battled. I told (the team) that whoever could put six or eight points together was going to have the upper hand and unfortunately it was (Rivet). They got some good looks, we didn't rotate defensively and they stretched it out on us at the end. They hit their foul shots, but we had our opportunities and we can't be disappointed about that."
The game was a possession-by-possession battle for more than three quarters as Clay City opened up a narrow first half lead and still led midway through the third period at 19-17.
For much of the contest, both teams were very deliberate in what they wanted to do offensively, feeling out the opponent and looking for good shots. The defense's forced a combined 19 turnovers in the first half, which added to the importance of each possession.
The Eels led at the break 16-11 as Allie Miller scored five of her six points before halftime and Brielle Drelick also had five points with Michaela Riggs providing quality minutes in the post.
The Patriots were held to 5-of-21 shooting in the opening two periods as Clay City grabbed the edge thanks to near-50 percent shooting (7-of-16) before halftime.
However, the Eels found that there was a lid on the basket in the second half.
Rivet began working the ball into the post to 5'11 senior Elle Herman and she opened the third quarter with an offensive rebound a score. Eels' senior Carmela Roeschlein scored off a turnover in response, but a bucket by Herman and a jumper from senior Elizabeth Keller narrowed the gap to 18-17. A score by Ellie Herman and one by her sister Lauren Herman gave Rivet its first second half lead at 21-19.
The Patriots' lead stood at 23-22 at the end of the third quarter as Clay City hit just 2-of-10 shots from the field while Rivet shot 60 percent (6-of-10).
Neither team gave way early in the fourth quarter as the tense contest was tied at 27-all after Clay City's Madison Booe scored underneath in transition and completed a three-point play.
Ames was quick to complement Booe and Riggs on what their efforts meant to the team against the Patriots.
"The last couple of games Michaela Riggs has been huge," Ames said of the senior forward. "She's really coming around, that's what we saw this summer. She's really doing some great stuff and she played some great minutes for us," Ames said. "With her height and athleticism that helps us. Madison Booe picked us up there at the beginning of the fourth quarter, was hustling around and gave us an opportunity to stick in the game."
A free throw by Booe off an offensive rebound and a foul got Clay City back to within 29-28 and the Eels' forced a turnover from the Patriots. Alas, the lid remained on the basket for the Eels, who shot just 4-of-21 in the second half.
Clay City couldn't capitalize on the turnover and Rivet got a pivotal three-point play from Lauren Herman to push the gap to 32-28. Keller followed with a jumper at the 3:09 mark to extend the gap to what seemed like a massive 34-28 advantage.
The Eels weren't able to counter the Patriots' push as Rivet finished out the game on a 13-point run to establish the final margin.
"It was kind of like a boxing match a little bit, not so much the physicality, but every possession meant something. Unfortunately the last five minutes, they got on a string and we didn't stop them," Ames said. "We kind of felt sorry for ourselves when we got down seven or eight points and that hurt us. Then the final score was what it was."
Drelick led the Eels with eight points and six boards with both Roeschlein and Miller tallying six. Booe and Riggs provided four points each with Riggs adding four boards. Lauren Herman had a game-high 15 points to go with her sister's 11 rebounds.
The Clay City junior varsity provided a good start to the night with a 32-21 victory led by 15 points from freshman Logan Ellinger. Mahayle Durga scored seven points followed by four from Alex Wolfe.
The Eels (4-3 overall) host Linton-Stockton on Thursday in a varsity only contest at 7 p.m.
At Clay City
Vincennes Rivet (42)
E.Herman 6-9 1-4 13, Dreiman 2-7 0-0 4, L.Herman 5-10 5-5 15, Keller 5-8 0-0 10, Wehrheim 0-4 0-0 0, Pratt 0-0 0-0 0, Niehaus 0-3 0-0 0, Heinz 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 18-41 5-9 42.
Clay City (28)
Roeschlein 3-17 0-1 6, Drelick 3-8 1-2 8, Reed 0-2 0-0 0, Miller 2-4 1-2 6, Booe 1-5 2-3 4, Dayhuff 0-1 0-0 0, Riggs 2-2 0-0 4. Totals: 11-39 4-9 28.
3-point fieldgoals -- VR 0-4 (E.Herman 0-1, Dreiman 0-3). CC 2-17 (Roeschlein 0-8, Drelick 1-1, Miller 1-3, Reed 0-1, Booe 0-4). Total Rebounds -- VR 35 (Keller 7, L.Herman 4, E.Herman 11). Team Rebounds -- VR 5, CC 1. Total Fouls -- VR 6, CC 8. Turnovers -- VR 16, CC 16.