Times Sports Editor
CLAY CITY -- The Clay City Eels took away some valuable lessons from Thursday's battle against Class 2A No. 8 ranked Sullivan. However, the Arrows narrowly took home the victory by a 43-38 score.
The Eels were forced to the perimeter against the Arrows as 6'2 Indiana State commit, Rhagen Smith patrolled the paint, but Clay City nearly made that work to its advantage by hitting 10 3-pointers in the game. Sullivan was able to overcome a five-point deficit in the final quarter with its defense as the Eels couldn't get enough shots to fall down the stretch.
Clay City coach Chris Ames was pleased with his team's play despite the end result on the scoreboard.
"I'm real proud of our effort tonight. The last couple of times we've had good teams come in here, we haven't really showed up to play the whole 32 minutes," Ames said. "Tonight we battled for 32 minutes and just couldn't hit any shots in the fourth quarter. (Sullivan) really did some good things defensively. They switched a lot of things on us, "T-ed" our cuts and we didn't hit shots and Sullivan did."
Clay City held a 30-26 lead late in the third quarter as Madison Booe and Carmela Roeschlein drilled 3-pointers, but the Arrows' Sierra Walters responded with a long-range shot of her own to close the gap to 30-29. Brielle Drelick answered with a trifecta and Allie Miller's 3-pointer at the third period horn put Clay City up 36-31.
While Clay City made a living behind the line, hitting 10-of-25 from behind the arc, led by Roeschlein's six 3-pointers, the Arrows kept firing right back to stay within striking distance.
"They had some other girls step up and hit shots. The (Sierra) Walters girl hit that one that was a huge shot. We got (the lead) up to five or six and they cut it right back," Ames said.
Junior guard Caelan Jones opened the quarter with two free throws and added a tying 3-pointer. Walters followed with a hoop and Smith got free for a lay-up in a 9-0 run to start the final quarter.
Clay City got a timeout with 1:42 remaining in the game, but wasn't able to answer as Madison Booe missed a 3-pointer and the Eels were forced to foul. Walters, who had a team-high 17 points, 10 more than her per-game average, hit two more shots from the line with 28 seconds left. Trailing 42-36, Clay City got a baseline jumper from Drelick, who had 11 points, to get within four points and the Eels pressured Sullivan into a turnover with 15 seconds left.
The Eels weren't able to capitalize as Drelick missed a shot and Smith wrapped up the game with a free throw.
"The other night at North Daviess we hit nine '3's' with five different girls. When you are not very big, you better be able to spread people out and shoot a little bit. Unfortunately we just couldn't get to the basket tonight," Ames said. "Rhagen (Smith) did a good job of sealing up and really Walters did too. With their guard pressure it makes it difficult to even get a step."
The Eels were hot from the perimeter from the opening tip as Roeschlein hit five from long-range before halftime on her way to 18 points. Clay City used those shots to take a 21-18 lead at halftime and the Eels did a good job of keeping the Arrows off the backboard in taking the lead.
"I thought we did a good job of limiting their offensive rebounds. Games like this that are going to be close, those are going to be big. Allie Miller did an outstanding job and Michaela Riggs did a great job and the other girls bodied," Ames said of his senior front court. "It's nice because we have smart, intelligent girls that really try to do what you ask and we try to game plan for it. For three quarters it worked and in the fourth quarter we just couldn't close the deal."
The Class A No. 12 ranked Eels drop to 13-6 and travel to Northview on Tuesday. Sullivan improves to 16-3 overall and hosts Northview on Jan. 27.
At Clay City
Clay City (38)
Roeschlein 6-17 0-0 18, Drelick 5-12 0-0 11, Reed 0-4 0-0 0, A.Miller 2-6 0-0 6, Booe 1-5 0-0 3, Dayhuff 0-0 0-0 0, Riggs 0-0 0-0 0, Wolfe 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 14-44 0-0 38.
C.Jones 3-8 2-2 10, Gilham 1-6 0-0 3, Chapman 0-4 0-1 0, Walters 7-10 2-3 17, Smith 6-9 1-2 13. Totals: 17-37 5-8 43.
3-point fieldgoals -- CC 10-25 (Roeschlein 6-13, Drelick 1-1, Reed 0-3, Miller 2-5, Booe 1-3), SL 4-10 (Jones 2-4, Gilham 1-5, Walters 1-1). Total Rebounds -- CC 20 (Miller 5), SL 31 (Jones 6, Smith 6). Team Rebounds -- CC 3, SL 7. Total Fouls -- CC 11, SL 8. Turnovers -- CC 7, SL 9.