Times Sports Editor
SPENCER -- When a team has had as much success in recent years as Clay City's girls' squad, they can expect to get every teams' best effort when they take the court.
On Monday night that team was Owen Valley, who defended their home court to the hilt before the Eels escaped with a 52-39 victory.
Clay City opened the game red-hot as Carmela Roeschlein knocked down her first three 3-pointers, but the Patriots were spearheaded by sophomore guard Alicia Wilson and 6'0 center Megan Eldridge.
Wilson hit a pair of 3-pointers and tallied nine of her 20 points in the opening period. Eldridge added half of her 12 points in the quarter as Owen Valley held a 17-14 lead through eight minutes.
"(Owen Valley) played really well. They were ready to go from the tip and I don't know what they shot in the first quarter, but they were hot," Clay City coach Chris Ames said. "It's times like that you have to take a team's best punches and keep fighting and trying to get stops."
Owen Valley was indeed hot as the Patriots hit 7-of-10 shots from the field to hold the three-point advantage.
Clay City got its feet under them a bit in the second stanza and its defensive effort improved markedly as Eldridge was held scoreless.
The Eels meanwhile got four points from Brielle Drelick and some key minutes from Alex Wolfe, who scored four points and grabbed three rebounds against Eldridge in limited minutes.
"We were able to kind of re-establish that defense in the second quarter it's not like we scored that well, but we were lucky enough to go in at halftime with a one-point lead against a team that outplayed us in the first half," Ames said.
Owen Valley wasn't going to be discouraged despite giving up the first half lead as Sheldon Williams tallied a pair of free throws and Wilson scored on a drive for a 27-26 Patriots' lead early in the second half as Clay City's defense again looked a big flat footed.
That was soon going to be remedied after a time out by Ames got his team back into the aggressor's role over the final three minutes of the third quarter.
Owen Valley had opened the half on an 8-2 run as Eldridge had showcased her range by knocking down a pair of long jumpers that turned the tide of the game. Ames was admittedly impressed with the Patriots talented duo of Wilson and Eldridge.
"The Eldridge girl, I've seen them play, and she's not afraid to shoot it and she was good from 15-feet in to five-feet. She was a real hassle for us. She played really well," Ames said. "The Wilson girl, she's just a really good player and she handled the ball really well and sets up her teammates. I thought Owen Valley defensively had a game plan and they set it and hit some shots early. I'm proud of our girls to be able to come down here. It's not easy to win at Owen Valley."
Trailing by five, Clay City dug in to make a rally sparked by its defense and a hustle play by Callie Dayhuff, who chased down a breakaway lay-up to tip it out of play and saving an easy bucket by the Patriots.
Drelick got the Eels back to 31-29 and Roeschlein completed a three-point play in transition to put the Eels on top at 32-31 with 2:30 remaining in the quarter.
A steal by Michaela Riggs and a jumper by Allie Miller pushed the gap to 34-31 and back-to-back turnovers forced by the Eels led to fast break lay-ups by Drelick, who had a game-high 23 points.
"We got some steals (at the end of the third quarter) and I thought some of the big plays were Michaela Riggs and Brielle Drelick denying people the ball when they wanted to come up and receive it and backdoor us," Ames said. "That caused (Owen Valley) some trouble and got us some breakaway lay-ups. Looking at our stats, the last 21 or 22 possessions of the game for Owen Valley, we only gave up eight points."
The Eels closed the quarter on a 14-1 run that gave Clay City a 40-32 lead heading into the final quarter.
Drelick scored 17 of her 23 points in the second half and helped close out the game with a jumper and four straight free throws in the fourth quarter following a 3-pointer from Wilson.
Wilson's third jumper from long-range got Owen Valley within 40-35 to start the fourth quarter, but the Eels answered with a 12-4 closing run to claim the hard fought victory.
The Clay City junior varsity team exploded in the fourth quarter to score a 46-31 victory against the Patriots.
The Eels' were led by 17 points from Logan Ellinger, but got a balanced effort overall as Mahayle Durga tallied 10 points, Claire Miller provided six and Wolfe had five points.
The Eels (11-5 overall) host Bloomfield at 6 p.m. on Thursday evening.
At Owen Valley
Clay City (52)
Roeschlein 6-15 3-3 18, Drelick 8-17 7-8 23, Reed 1-5 0-0 2, Miller 2-4 1-3 5, Booe 0-1 0-0 0, Dayhuff 0-0 0-0 0, Wolfe 2-2 0-0 4, Riggs 0-0 0-0 0, Ellinger 0-0 0-0 0, Decker 0-0 0-0 0, Durga 0-0 0-0 0, C.Miller 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 19-44 11-15 52.
Owen Valley (39)
Hamm 2-7 0-0 5, Wilson 7-12 3-5 20, Corder 0-4 0-2 0, Williams 0-5 2-2 2, Eldridge 6-7 0-0 12, Herrington 0-0 0-0 0, Richardson 0-3 0-0 0, Jones 0-1 0-0 0, Samick 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 15-39 5-9 39.
3-point fieldgoals -- CC 3-13 (Roeschlein 3-10, Reed 0-2, Miller 0-1), OV 4-14 (Hamm 1-2, Wilson 3-7, Corder 0-1, Williams 0-3, Richardson 0-2). Total Rebounds -- 26 (Miller 6, Drelick 5), OV 22 (Eldridge 5, Hamm 4). Team rebounds -- CC 4, OV 3. Total Fouls -- CC 9, OV 9. Turnovers -- CC 13, OV 20.