Times Sports Editor
CLAY CITY -- The varsity roster has had a pretty familiar look the last four years as a special senior class has played a lot of hoops in the Eel Dome.
"This is a special group. Wins and losses aside, I wish people could understand how hard these girls work," Clay City coach Chris Ames said. "This isn't just basketball season. They put a lot of work in outside the season, not only for me, but they also work hard in the classroom. It seems like time does fly, it is a special group. They have a special meaning, not just to me, but to the coaching staff. It's been fun."
All five seniors took to the court for the opening tip and all of them got into the scoring column in the first quarter as Riggs hit both of her attempts from the field and Miller also added four points. Roeschlein knocked down a 3-pointer as part of a five-point period and Drelick hit the opening shot of the game, a 3-pointer from the corner to go with a bucket by Reed.
The opening salvo was fueled by the T-Birds loss of leading scorer Brittney Igel to foul trouble. The Eels were able to open up a 20-8 lead as they shot 8-of-11 from the field.
The second quarter slowed considerably for the Eels as Miller sat down with her second foul and Drelick had to be cautious on the court with her second personal foul as well.
Meanwhile, Eastern was able to get to the foul line 10 times in the quarter to stay close. Only Reed's three-point play at the halftime buzzer allowed Clay City to outscore the T-Birds in the period.
With a 33-18 lead at the midway point, Clay City showed off its defensive pressure in the third period with a whirlwind of hands and arms leading to deflections in the back court. The Eels forced Eastern into 12 turnovers in the third quarter alone and Clay City began to feed off the miscues.
"At halftime we had had 27 possessions and we had turned the ball over eight times. So we only had 19 chances to score, but we did score on 17 of those 19," Ames said. "We only turned the ball over three times in the second half. We told them to bring some energy in the second half. I just thought that everyone we played, played hard. I thought our defense in the third quarter was excellent. We just opened it up because our girls were able to look up and get transition stuff."
Miller scored off an offensive rebound, a steal by Roeschlein fed a lay-up and an Eastern timeout just 44 seconds into the half. Clay City led 37-18 and after two free throws by Igel, regained their focused pressure.
Another steal by Roeschlein led to a jumper from Miller, who had eight points, and a steal by Reed resulted in her getting to the line for two of her 11 points.
Defensive pressure spurred a 14-2 run over the first four minutes of the quarter and Roeschlein finished the quarter hot with nine of her game-high 21 points coming in the third period. Drelick wasn't going to be left out as she tallied five of her 20 points in the third. However, Ames was pleased with the team's balance as six players scored at least six points in the game.
"It's got to be five girls wanting to score all the time. You can't just expect two girls to pick up the entire load. You're going to have to have the other girls step up and hit crucial baskets in big situations," Ames said. "On a very special night I thought the girls shared the basketball really well. We made the extra pass."
By the time the horn sounded to end the quarter, Clay City had outran Eastern by a 24-4 margin in the period to seal an unbeaten SWIAC record.
The Eels improve to 15-6 this season and end the regular season on the road Jan. 31 at South Putnam. However, Ames isn't ready for the season to end just yet as the Eels have some unfinished business.
"We don't want it to end by any means. This is senior night and people have to understand that these girls appreciate a great crowd. The message that was read after their senior night, these girls wrote that statement for themselves thanking not only their parents, but the community because they've had great support," Ames said. "We're going to present a check Feb. 3 to Susan G. Komen and I think people will be surprised at how much we've raised. I think this community has been great. That's been the fun part is they've watched us grow as a team over four years."
At Clay City
Clay City (75)
Roeschlein 9-15 1-1 21, Drelick 5-11 9-11 20, Reed 4-6 3-3 11, A.Miller 3-7 2-2 8, Riggs 3-3 0-0 6, Dayhuff 0-1 0-0 0, Wolfe 0-1 0-0 0, Booe 4-8 1-1 9, Decker 0-2 0-0 0, Ellinger 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 28-54 16-19 75.
Butler 2-6 2-4 7, Igel 3-4 5-6 11, New 1-6 3-4 5, DuBois 0-2 0-0 0, Wagner 2-9 2-2 7, Resler 1-1 0-2 2, Martin 0-1 0-0 0, Todd 0-1 1-2 1, Spice 0-0 0-0 0, Harper 0-0 0-0 0, Osbourn 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 9-30 13-20 33.
3-point fieldgoals -- CC 3-10 (Roeschlein 2-4, Drelick 1-1, Dayhuff 0-1, Miller 0-2, Booe 0-2), E 2-9 (Butler 1-4, New 0-1, Wagner 1-4). Total Rebounds -- CC 26 (Drelick 5), E 23 (Igel 4). Team Rebounds -- CC 3, E 6. Total Fouls -- CC 17, E 13. Turnovers -- CC 11, E 25.
Junior varsity: Clay City won 24-23 as Logan Ellinger had 10 points. Emmie Kittle had five and Mahaye Durga had four.