Times Sports Editor
CLAY CITY -- Clay City gained a momentum boost before the holidays, rallying from a fourth quarter deficit to take a 39-32 victory over Cloverdale in girls basketball Tuesday evening.
The Eels initially didn't look like they would need a late game comeback as Kylee Truax scored on a drive, Callie Dayhuff followed with a driving lay-in and Alisha Steward scored off a steal for a 24-16 advantage early in the third period.
However, the Clovers responded by upping the defensive pressure, which immediately sparked their offense.
Amillia Nally scored on a drive and Paige Gruener answered with a steal and a lay-in. Nally took her classmate's cue and stole the ball and added a lay-up to get the Clovers within 24-22. The Eels got a score from Alex Wolfe, but Cloverdale's Bristy Skiles drilled a 3-pointer from the corner and Gruener added another steal that led to a score and a 27-26 lead for the Clovers.
Cloverdale hit its first five shots of the second half and 7-of-12 in the period to take a one-point lead into the fourth period.
"Looking at the possession chart, when Cloverdale made the run at us, we were still in it, but we didn't do a very good job when West Vigo made runs at us or when North Central did a couple of times. Out of those 11 points, we had turned the ball over four times, leading to eight points," Clay City coach Chris Ames said. "We can't do that and we've been working on it and we've had a good attitude about it. In the last quarter we turned the ball over one time, we got good looks and got some good shots and took back control of the game."
As Ames noted, the Eels settled down in the fourth quarter and regained the momentum as Logan Ellinger's jumper gave Clay City a lead to start the period. Steward followed with a drive and two free throws for a 32-27 lead with 5:59 left in the contest. The backbreaker came off of a loose ball scrum on the defensive end for the Eels as Claire Miller grabbed a rebound. Truax, who had missed her first six shots from beyond the arc, sank a 3-pointer to put the Eels ahead 35-27.
"I thought the biggest play of that fourth quarter and maybe it went unnoticed, a shot went up and everybody went after it and we had just gotten the lead by a possession," Ames said. "Claire Miller was on the left block and she comes away with it. We come down off that and hit a big 3-pointer and now we are up four points. I thought that was a huge play and a huge rebound for a girl that's 5'4 and it really settled us."
"You live and die by (the 3-pointer) sometimes, but right then it was a huge play," Ames said. "That is her specialty, but she can drive it and look in, but she hit a really big shot for us. For someone who works as hard as she does, it's fun when it goes in. She didn't give up on it when a lot of kids might have quit shooting."
The Clovers would get with 37-32 as Gruener hit a runner in the lane and added a free throw. An Eels' turnover briefly opened the door for Cloverdale, but Skiles missed a 3-pointer with 48 seconds left and Clay City finished the game with a pair of free throws by Ellinger, who had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
In the JV contest, Clay City won 24-10 as Raven Allender poured in 10 points and both Courtney Brown and Mahayle Durga had four points.
The Eels (5-6 overall) travel to the Toby Yoho Tourney at Eastern (Greene) Dec. 27-28 and take on Brown County at 9:30 a.m. before facing Paoli at 1 p.m.
At Clay City
Stevens 0-0 0-2 0, Gruener 5-10 2-6 12, Nally 4-6 0-0 9, Shrum 2-3 0-0 4, Skiles 2-10 0-0 5, Wellington 0-1 0-0 0, Clark 1-4 0-1 2. Totals: 14-36 2-9 32.
Clay City (39)
Steward 5-7 5-6 16, Dayhuff 2-6 0-3 4, Wolfe 2-6 0-2 4, Truax 2-8 0-0 5, Ellinger 4-9 2-2 10, Miller 0-0 0-0 0, Decker 0-0 0-0 0, Durga 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 15-37 7-13 39.
3-point fieldgoals -- CL 2-11 (Nally 1-3, Skiles 1-8), CC 2-16 (Steward 1-2, Truax 1-7, Dayhuff 0-3, Ellinger 0-4). Total Rebounds -- CL 19 (Gruener 7, Shrum 6), CC 31 (Ellinger 10, Steward 5). Total Fouls -- CL 12, CC 7. Turnovers -- CL 16, CC 19.