Times Sports Editor
MARTINSVILLE -- Barely a minute stood between the Clay City Eels and a chance to play for the school's first regional championship since 1974. It hardly took that long for it to quickly come unraveled.
The Eels saw a six-point lead evaporate in that time as Hauser's 6'7 Adam Miller forced three turnovers, turned them into lay-ups and eventually hit a game-tying 3-pointer with six seconds left to force overtime. In that session, the Jets lived up to their name, pulling away for a 58-50 victory.
Miller, a 20 ppg. scorer through the season, was held in check for three quarters, but came up big when it counted the most. The senior forced back-to-back turnovers on inbound classes and turned them both into points as Hauser cut a 46-41 Clay City lead down to 46-45 in five seconds.
"That's a tough job down there when you've got a 6'7 that is that long and lanky, he's probably got the wingspan of a seven-footer," Clay City coach Vance Edmondson said. "That didn't cost us anything. We came down on the offensive end and turned the ball over, missed easy lay-ups. I'm proud of these guys and just happy with how hard we played today."
The Eels bounced back to increase the lead to 48-45 on two clutch free throws by senior Jake Tiefel with 11.7 seconds remaining. However, a Hauser timeout set up Miller for a game-tying 3-pointer with six seconds left in regulation.
In the extra session, Hauser controlled the opening tip and scored the first eight points of overtime to lead 56-48 before Ben Denker's bucket with 38 seconds remaining.
"We'd done a good job, up until that point, of controlling the game," Edmondson said. "We told (Clay City's players) that we wanted to keep the game in the 40's. We did a good job of keeping the tempo in our favor. We just kind of let it slip away there at the end."
Clay City withstood an early rush by Hauser in the first quarter, trailing 12-6 after the opening eight minutes before setting in and making its own run.
Denker drilled a 3-pointer and Tyler Allen, Brylan Jones and Tiefel each scored buckets. Cesinger added five of his team-high 16 points and the Eels turned the tables for a 22-19 lead at the intermission.
Despite the early deficit against one of the state's highest scoring teams, Edmondson was confident his team would get back into the fray.
"We were almost too patient," Edmondson said of the early going. "Even when (Hauser) made their run to start with, we maintained. I told them, 'this is going to be a methodical game.' We had to grind it out. The way (Hauser) likes to play, no lead is safe either way. They may be up 20, but you could be back in it in three or four minutes."
Clay City continued to build upon its lead with a patient and smart plan to spread Hauser out and a driving bucket by Denker and a 3-pointer by Jones pushed the lead to 27-21 in the third period. At that point, Miller had been held scoreless.
"Tyler (Allen) did a good job on him all night," Edmondson said of the defensive effort on Miller. "We wanted to be physical with him, bump him and not let him have any clean cuts. We did that, but in the fourth quarter and overtime, he just kind of took control. It just gets to the point where he just backs you down in the paint and then just jumps up and shoots over you. Plus we gave him a couple of easy buckets on the defensive end."
Thayer would finish with a late rush, however, scoring five points in the final minute of the period to get Hauser within 34-32 heading into the final period.
Clay City slowly built its lead back to 44-38 on a score by Jones after the Eels broke the Hauser press with less than two minutes left in regulation. Jones, who had 15 points and five boards, added a bucket off an assist by Denker with 1:10 left. A free throw by Thayer got his team within 46-41 before the Eels missed the front end of a 1-and-1 opportunity at the line. Miller took control at that point with back-to-back scores off turnovers to set up his late heroics.
Miller's game-tying 3-pointer was Hauser's only 3-pointer of the game.
Denker (nine points), Tiefel (six points), Jones (15 points) and Allen (four points) each wrapped up their Clay City careers along with Kole Smith, Nathan Buell and Koby Rhodes.
In the regional championship game, Class A second-ranked Edinburgh rolled to the title by an 81-59 score over the Jets. The Lancers (23-2) will meet Loogootee (20-4) in the Southport Semi-state on Saturday. In the other bracket, Rockville (21-5) will meet Fort Wayne Canterbury (19-6) at Lafayette Jefferson.
Class A Martinsville Regional
Hauser 58, Clay City 50, overtime
Clay City (50)
Denker 4-9 0-0 9, Cesinger 5-17 5-8 16, Tiefel 2-6 2-2 6, Jones 6-9 2-2 15, Allen 2-4 0-0 4, Buell 0-0 0-0 0, Phillips 0-0 0-0 0, Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Arcenal 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 19-46 9-12 50.
Reid Thayer 6-12 10-16 22, Miller 6-12 1-2 14, Wallace 3-6 0-0 6, Shipley 1-5 0-0 2, Johnson 6-10 0-0 12, Landis 0-0 0-0 0, Johns 0-0 0-0 0, Coram 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 23-47 11-18 58.
3-point fieldgoals -- CC 3-11 (Denker 1-2, Cesinger 1-5, Jones 1-1, Tiefel 0-2, Rhodes 0-1), Ha 1-8 (Miller 1-1, Thayer 0-4, Shipley 0-3). Total Rebounds -- CC 31 (Cesinger 13, Allen 6, Jones 5), Ha 27 (Miller 14, Johnson 8). Total Fouls -- CC 16, Ha 15. Fouled out -- CC (Denker). Turnovers -- CC 16, Ha 18.