Times Sports Editor
CLAY CITY -- As far as local hardwood rivalries go, there aren't many better than when Clay City and Shakamak match up on the basketball court. On Friday night, the Eels used a second half surge to hand the Class A No. 11 Lakers their first Southwestern Indiana Conference loss in seven games, 52-41.
"This is a huge win especially the way we've played probably the last five or six games coming in," Clay City coach Vance Edmondson said. "I'm real proud of the guys. They played really hard tonight and beat a really good Shakamak team."
Following the junior varsity game, Clay City's girls' basketball team presented a check Gwen Hicks of the Wabash Valley affiliate of the Susan G. Komen foundation for cancer research. The team raised $2,840 dollars for the foundation this season.
Both teams played the first half close to the vest with some foul trouble affecting the pace of play. Blake Cesinger had six points along with Jake Tiefel to give Clay City a 16-13 lead at the break.
Edmondson wasn't pleased with his team's shot selection despite lead. Clay City took eight 3-pointers out of 17 total shots in the first half. Clay City's front court duo of Brylan Jones and Tyler Allen combined for just three shots on three points on a 3-pointer by Jones.
"That was something we talked about at halftime. We were settling for too many 3's," Edmondson said. "We wanted to have more penetration and get the ball to Brylan (Jones) and Tyler (Allen) down in the post more and we did that. Actually, we were fortunate enough to be able to throw over the top because (6'7 Justin) Crody was coming up the middle. When he comes up, we have a size advantage and we took advantage of it"
From the start of the third quarter, it was apparent that both teams were going to emphasize getting the ball into the post. Shakamak's 6'7 Justin Crody was scoreless at halfitme with just one, shot attempt.
That was going to change quickly.
Crody and Jones traded baskets for each team as the game's pace was dramatically quicker. Ben Denker nailed a 3-pointer and after a three-point play by Brodie Crowe narrowed the Eels' lead to 21-18, Jones and Crody traded two buckets apiece.
Crody would keep his team alive in the quarter, hitting all five of his shots, but it was Jones, who would have the last word in the third.
After Crody got the Lakers within 32-26 after a 3-pointer by Denker, the Eels held the ball for the final 50 seconds of the quarter as Jones came open on the elbow and nailed a 3-pointer at the horn to bump the lead to 35-26.
"We know Brylan can shoot it and we noticed that (Shakamak) was really extending it's zone, but the corner guys were staying in so we called his number and he stepped up and knocked it down. That was a huge shot for us."
The Eels continued to hold the momentum as play got a bit chippy a couple of minutes into the fourth quarter as a loose ball resulted in a few choice words and some extra contact after the whistle.
The play resulted in double technical fouls, one on each squad, but the stoppage in play didn't slow down Jones.
The 6'4 senior scored inside to push the lead to double-figures and added a free throw for a 40-28 advantage with 4:20 remaining.
Shakamak made a late run on a 3-pointer by freshman Dylan Collins and another from Jeb Batchelor to get within 41-35 with three minutes remaining.
The run wouldn't be enough however as Cesinger scored on a drive as part of his 10-point, nine-rebound effort. Denker added a free throw and the Eels finished out the game by hitting enough free throws to claim the victory.
Not to be lost in the win was the defensive effort on the Lakers talented guard tandem of Crowe and Dowell, who combined for 33 points against Clay City in the Greene County Tourney. On Friday, the pair had just 13 total points on 5-of-16 shooting from the field.
"If two of the three guys have a good night for them, you are going to have a tough time beating them," Edmondson said of limiting Crowe, Dowell and Crody offensively. For Jake (Tiefel) and Ben (Denker) to do such a great job on them defensively on those two guys, that helped a lot."
In the junior varsity game, Josh Arsenal sank a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Clay City a 32-30 victory.
Evan Rogers had 14 points, Josh Miller and Colten Harbour each had four points.
The Eels improve to 11-6 overall and 4-2 in the SWIAC with a Thursday trip to North Central (Farmersburg) at 6 p.m.
At Clay City
Clay City (52)
Denker 3-6 3-4 12, Cesinger 4-12 1-2 10, Tiefel 3-6 0-0 6, Jones 6-10 6-10 20, Allen 0-1 1-2 1, Buell 0-0 0-0 0, Rhodes 0-0 0-0 0, Harbour 1-1 1-1 3, Rhodes 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 17-36 12-19 52.
Dowell 3-10 3-4 8, Crowe 2-6 1-1 5, Schubla 0-2 0-0 0, Green 3-5 0-0 7, Crody 6-7 0-0 12, Morin 1-1 0-0 2, Collins 1-4 1-2 4, Batchelor 1-2 0-0 3. Totals: 16-36 5-7 41.
3-point fieldgoals -- CC 6-14 (Denker 3-6, Cesinger 1-4, Tiefel 0-2, Jones 2-2), SH 4-13 (Dowell 1-3, Collins 1-4, Green 1-3, Batchelor 1-1, Crowe 0-2). Total Rebounds -- CC 23 (Cesinger 9, Jones 6), SH 20 (Crowe 6). Team Rebounds -- CC 2, SH 2. Total Fouls -- CC 12, SH 19. Fouled out -- CC (Tiefel), SH (Crody). Turnovers -- CC 8, SH 11.