Times Sports Editor
CLAY CITY -- The Clay City girl's basketball team strung together a 14-3 run bridging the end of the third period and starting the fourth quarter to rally back for a 44-40 victory over visiting Union (Dugger).
The run helped the Eels turn a 28-23 deficit into a 37-31 lead in the span of barely three minutes.
For Clay City head coach Chris Ames, the run showcased some of the play he's been looking for from this team this season.
"We just made some plays. We had some girls step up and have some confidence when the ball went in and made three, 3's and two of them back-to-back. Those were big shots and you practice those shots when you put up hundreds of shots per day," Ames said. "Today we made them and I was really pleased that they came out in that fourth quarter and played with a lot of enthusiasm. We've been lacking that and we've been preaching to come out and play harder. I thought ending the third quarter and in the fourth quarter we played aggressive."
Logan Ellinger started the comeback with a 3-pointer to end the third quarter to narrow the Bulldogs' lead to 28-26 and began to shift the momentum.
Union pushed the gap back to five as Hannah Sullivan completed a three-point play to start the fourth quarter. However, the Eels answered with a score by Alex Wolfe off an offensive rebound and a Union turnover led to a free throw by Wolfe, who had seven points. Alisha Steward followed by scoring off a steal and another Bulldog miscue preceded a 3-pointer by Kyle Truax as the Eels took a 34-31 lead. Callie Dayhuff grabbed another steal and Steward drilled a 3-pointer to complete the run.
Ames agreed that defense was the spark to the 14-3 break for the Eels and gave them a measure of control with 5:07 remaining.
"We had people talking defensively and that made a huge difference tonight," Ames said. "It's just getting people in the right place and learning their spots still. We got (Union) to turn it over and got some good looks on it and got fouled a couple of times and got to the basket. We just have to pick up our intensity. If we don't do that it's hard for us to compete, which is what we're stressing right now."
Union wasn't going to cave in seek of its fifth win of the year.
Hallie Smith drilled a 3-pointer with 2:30 left, but Steward and Logan Ellinger followed with single free throws for the Eels to extend the lead to 40-34.
The Bulldogs clawed back to within 40-36 with a free throw apiece from Kolbi Reynolds and Smith with 39 seconds remaining.
Clay City didn't panic however, getting a driving lay-in from Steward, who had 16 points. She would add a score off a long inbound pass with 17 seconds remaining to salt away the victory for the Eels.
Callie Dayhuff posted five points with Truax adding a pair of 3-pointers for her six points and Ellinger had eight.
The win moves Clay City to 4-6 overall this season, 2-3 in the SWIAC with a home game against Cloverdale on Tuesday.
At Clay City
Union (Dugger) (40)
Secrest 0 2-4 2, Smith 3 2-4 10, Hale 0 0-0 0, Reynolds 1 3-4 5, Sullivan 6 5-5 18, Kendall 2 0-0 5. Totals: 12 12-17 40.
Clay City (44)
Steward 6 3-6 16, Dayhuff 2 0-0 5, Wolfe 3 1-2 7, Ellinger 3 1-2 8, Durga 0 0-0 0, Truax 2 0-0 6, Price 0 0-0 0, Miller 0 0-0 0, Decker 0 2-2 2. Totals: 16 7-12 44.
3-point fieldgoals -- Un 4 (Smith 2, Kendall, Sullivan), CC 5 (Truax 2, Steward, Dayhuff, Ellinger). Total Fouls -- Un 11, CC 13.