Times Sports Editor
SWITZ CITY -- The Shakamak Lakers derailed Clay City's chances at just the second Greene County Tourney title in the history of the tourney by rallying for a 53-47 overtime victory in the opening round on Wednesday night.
The Lakers overcame a 10-point deficit in the third quarter to force overtime and then made a living at the free throw line in the extra session to claim the win. Shakamak outscored Clay City 20-4 at the line and hit all 10 of its free throws in the overtime session to hold off the Eels.
Heading into the game, Clay City was tasked with limiting the Lakers' 6'7 senior center Justin Crody in the paint. However, it was 5'11 junior Patrick Green that saved the day for the Lakers.
The Eels were methodical and patient while building a 29-19 advantage in the third quarter as Brylan Jones drilled a 3-pointer to push the lead to 21-16. Green added a free throw and Crody put back an offensive rebound off his own miss to get the Lakers back to 21-19. However, Clay City's Jones scored on the baseline off a nice assist from Jake Tiefel and senior guard Ben Denker finished in traffic and completed a three-point play. Denker, who had a team-high 19 points, drilled a 3-pointer and the Eels seemed to be in control with the 10-point advantage.
Clay City was able to deny the ball in the post to Crody for the most part as he hit just 1-of-7 shots from the field. However, senior Brock Dowell and junior Brodie Crowe stepped in to make their presence felt down the stretch.
Dowell, who had just two points in the first half, nailed a 3-pointer before the Eels' Tyler Allen scored off a Denker assist. Dowell closed the quarter with two free throws as Clay City led 31-24 heading into the fourth quarter.
A 3-pointer by Tiefel bumped the Eels' lead to 34-26 before Green found his stroke for Shakamak.
Clay City sagged off the 5'11 junior for much of the opening three quarters and Green was 1-of-7 from the field. However, he nailed three 3-pointers in the third period as Shakamak tied the game on his third trifecta.
With the Lakers fully joining the battle with 3:40 remaining and the game knotted at 38-all, Dowell hit a free throw to give the Lakers their first lead since the opening period. Denker responded with a 3-pointer, but Green found some space for a driving lay-in to tie the game with 1:40 left in regulation.
Clay City worked the clock down inside 30 seconds, but an errant pass turned the ball back over to the Lakers, who were unable to take advantage at the horn.
"In tight games you can't lose guys that you are keyed on all game. We did that a couple of times tonight, we lost them and you have to give them credit, they stepped up and made shots when they needed to," Edmondson said in regards to Crowe and Dowell, who combined for 16 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. "We come down and struggle to find the range and settle for jump shots. We built a 10 or 11-point lead there by getting the ball inside, penetrating and kicking and then we quit doing that."
Perhaps the most pivotal stat of the overtime was that Shakamak was already in the bonus foul situation, but had only committed four team fouls themselves. That came in to play during the extra session as the Lakers made a point of driving to the hoop with Dowell getting to the line to hit all six of his free throws.
Dowell scored the first six points of the overtime, two on a jumper to open the scoring and the next four via the free throw. Tiefel kept the Eels within 47-43 with a jumper and Denker got Clay City within 47-45 with a drive to the basket when the Lakers went to a man-to-man defense briefly.
Trailing by two with 1:05 left, the Eels weren't able to get any closer as Shakamak didn't open the door at the line. Green hit two free throws, Denker answered with two, but Dowell and Crowe closed out the game with four straight at the charity stripe.
Brylan Jones had 10 points and six rebounds for Clay City, which held Crody to four points though he added eight boards. The Eels also got seven points from Blake Cesinger to go with seven rebounds.
With the loss, Clay City falls to 7-2 overall while the Lakers improve to 6-3. The Eels will face Vincennes Rivet tonight at 7:30 p.m.
Greene County Tourney
Clay City (47)
Denker 6-13 3-3 19, Cesinger 3-7 0-0 7, Tiefel 2-3 0-0 5, Jones 4-12 1-2 10, Allen 3-6 0-0 6, Harbour 0-0 0-0 0, Smith 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 14-41 4-5 47.
Dowell 5-11 10-12 21, Crowe 3-9 5-6 12, Schubla 0-1 0-0 0, Green 4-13 3-4 16, Crody 1-7 2-2 4, Collins 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 13-42 20-24 53.
3-point fieldgoals -- CC 7-20 (Denker 4-10, Cesinger 1-4, Tiefel 1-2, Jones 1-3, Allen 0-1), SH 5-15 (Green 3-8, Dowell 1-3, Crowe 1-3, Collins 0-1). Total Rebounds -- CC 20 (Jones 6, Cesinger 7), SH 27 (Crowe 8, Crody 8). Team Rebounds -- CC 2, SH 2. Total Fouls -- CC 16, SH 8. Turnovers -- CC 12, SH 7.