By STEVEN PENN
Times Staff Reporter
CLAY CITY --The Clay City Eels got the best of the Bloomfield Cardinals Friday night in a hard fought game, 49-45, to improve to 3-0 on the season.
The Eels jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter behind a six-point performance in the quarter by Blake Cesinger.
However, midway through the period the Cardinals seemed to regroup. A five-point quarter from Ryan O'Neall helped the Cardinals battle back to knot the game at 11 by the end of the period.
In the second quarter the Eels began to pull away once again, scoring 13 points in the quarter, while holding the Cardinals to five.
The Eels were sparked by Ben Denker, who knocked down two threes in the quarter on his way to 18 for the game.
At halftime, the Eels took a 24-16 lead into the locker room.
The Cardinals came out of the halftime break with their guns blazing, and went on a 6-0 run in the early moments of the third.
Helping the Cardinals to that fast start was solid team defense and two 3-point plays by O'Neall and Ben Hays, who tallied five and six points respectively in the quarter, and 11 and 13 for the game.
The Cardinals continued to play hard and with about a minute to go in the quarter had knotted the game at 29 apiece.
Cardinals coach Matt Britton said he liked his team's resiliency, but noted that Clay City seemed to want it more.
"We got behind, but we didn't quit," Britton said, "But obviously Clay City played with much more desire than we did tonight and they deserve to win the game they were ready to compete."
After the tie, the Eels finished the quarter on a 4-0 run to push the lead to 33-29 by the start of the fourth.
Cesinger once again lead the way for the Eels in the quarter tallying five and his own 3-point play.
Early in the fourth the Cardinals refused to give up, and at 6:37 were able to tie the game at 33 off a Kyle Doane three.
However, with 5:25 in the quarter the Eels broke the tie with two of Tyler Allen's four points for the game.
Then, with 4:15 left in the game and Clay City up three, Doane, who scored 12 on the night, once again knotted the score with another big three.
But Clay City had an answer. At 3:42 in the fourth, Denker responded with a three of his own, which brought the score to 39-36
Eels coach Vance Edmonson said Denker's three was a needed boost for his team.
"When it was tied 36 all and they go zone," Edmonson said. "We find Denker on the weak side and he hits a big three and I think that was a big turning point for us, (it) gave us kind of a confidence boost."
The Eels confidence boost was evident when, with 3:15 left, Cesinger came up big with a steal that he took the distance and converted into another 3-point play, which pushed the Eels lead to 42-39.
But the Cardinals kept the game close, and with 10 seconds left, Hays knocked down a three to cut the Eels lead to 48-45.
Ultimately though, the Eels were able to knock down enough free throws to keep the game out of reach of the visiting Cardinals, and won the game 49-45.
After the game, Edmonson said he liked what he saw out of his squad defensively.
"They come in averaging around 70 some odd points a game and we held them to 45 tonight," Edmonson said. "So it starts with us on the defensive end and (then) we did a good job of getting stops tonight and then making key baskets when we needed to."
Edmonson said his team wouldn't have much time to savor this victory as they play Eminence tomorrow.
"We have to come back tomorrow night," Edmonson said. "We play Eminence here, they won our sectional last year, (and) we split with them so were going to concentrate on them starting here in a few minutes."
At Clay City
Boys Varsity Basketball
Clay City (49)
Denker 5 2-3 18, Arsenal 0 0-0 0, Bigger 0 0-0 0, Phillips 0 0-0 0, Cesinger 6 8-12 20, Smith 1 0-0 2, Tiefel 1 0-0 2, Buell 0 0-0 0, Rhodes 0 0-0 0, Jones 0 3-6 3, Allen 0 4-4 4, Harbour 0 0-0 0. Totals: 13 20-28 49.
McGlothlin 1 0-0 2, Myers 1 0-0 3, O'Neall 4 3-6 11, Hays 4 3-4 13, Hasler 1 1-2 3, Buka 0 0-0 0, Doane 4 3-4 12, Robinson 0 0-0 0, Bucher 0 1-2 1. Totals: 15 11-18 45.
3-point field goals- CC 3 (Denker 3) BL 4 (Hays 2, Myers 1, Doane 1).
Team Fouls- CC 17, BL 15.