Times Sports Editor
CLAY CITY -- For the third straight season the Clay City girls' basketball team will be playing for a sectional championship on its home floor. The Eels surged past Eminence in the second half and pulled away to a 64-33 victory that puts Clay City in the title game tonight at 7:30 p.m.
The Eels got a dominant first half performance from Brielle Drelick as the senior scored 19 of her game-high 25 points before intermission. Clay City built a 14-point lead early in the second quarter before some foul trouble caught up to the Eels.
Eminence pounded the ball inside to senior Kateland Hunter, who hit 6-of-8 from the field and hit all four of her second quarter free throws. Eminence used an 8-0 run to get within five points midway through the period.
"I thought Eminence came out with a really good game plan. They were flying around. It wasn't anything that we haven't seen, but they wanted to play harder than we did," Clay City coach Chris Ames said.
While the offense also went cold in the quarter as Clay City hit just 5-of-17 from the field in the second period, Ames was more concerned with the defensive effort.
"In the second quarter we just didn't play any defense. The Hunter girl scored 13 of their 21 points and we didn't have any post defense. We didn't have any guards helping on the post defense either. They were more worried about standing out there on their person and we don't play like that. Eminence did a really good job of taking advantage of it."
Clay City was able to take a 31-21 lead at halftime with a pair of late free throws from Allie Miller and Drelick.
The second half looked much like the early minutes of the game as Clay City increased its defensive pressure in the full and half court and forced seven turnovers while outscoring the visitors 21-4 in the period.
Defensively, Clay City held Hunter scoreless in the quarter and to just four free throws in the second half.
"I don't know if she got injured there in the first half. That may have had something to do with it," Ames said of a second half collision that left Hunter holding her back. "Our girls talked at halftime about what they wanted to do differently as a group. I think we gave up four points in the third quarter and really set the tone for what we wanted and that's a credit to them."
With a sizable fourth quarter lead, Ames went to his bench midway through the quarter and saw Wolfe hit a 3-pointer as part of her five-point game. Carmela Roeschlein finished up a 16-point game and Drelick led the way with nine rebounds in a 42-20 board advantage by Clay City.
"I thought in the second half we really had players doing good things. Our bench played well. For what it is worth, Alex Wolfe hits a 3-pointer, that's nothing new. She shoots 15 or 25 of those every day," Ames said. "I thought (Michaela) Riggs was really flying around when she came in and Callie Dayhuff really did some good things defensively. We just had contributions from a lot of different people."
The Eels (17-7 overall) will face the winner of the Shakamak/WRV semifinal game held on Friday night. The sectional championship begins at 7:30 p.m.
Class A Clay City Sectional
Clay City (64)
Roeschlein 5-14 3-5 16, Drelick 8-14 6-7 25, Reed 2-4 1-3 6, Miller 0-6 4-5 4, Booe 2-9 0-2 5, Dayhuff 0-1 0-0 0, Wolfe 2-4 0-0 5, Decker 0-1 0-0 0, Riggs 0-0 1-2 1, Ellinger 1-2 0-0 2, Linton 0-0 0-0 0, Durga 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 21-57 16-24 64.
Hunter 6-12 9-10 21, Feutz 0-0 0-0 0, Campbell 3-9 0-0 6, Gore 2-5 0-0 4, Wood 1-6 0-3 2, Moore 0-1 0-0 0, Stierwalt 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 12-36 9-13 33.
3-point fieldgoals -- CC 6-17 (Roeschlein 2-8, Drelick 1-1, Reed 1-1, Wolfe 1-2, Booe 1-5), Em 0-2 (Campbell 0-2). Total Rebounds -- CC 42 (Drelick 9, Miller 7, Booe 4, Wolfe 4), Em 20 (Campbell 6, Hunter 5). Team rebounds -- CC 5, Em 3. Total Fouls -- CC 15, Em 17. Fouled out -- Em (Campbell). Turnovers -- CC 12, Em 23.