Times Sports Editor
CLAY CITY -- Clay City was snapped a two-game slide Tuesday night and awarded seniors Kaleigh Decker and Callie Dayhuff a victory as the two were honored prior to a 48-41 victory on senior night against South Putnam.
Understandably, Clay City coach Chris Ames was happy to get his seniors a victory on their home court.
"It's nice to win on senior night. It's a big thing in a sense that this is the last regular season game that these girls have on their home floor. You want to do everything that you can to win and those two really set the tone tonight," Ames said. "Callie (Dayhuff) made a really big and-1 play. (Kaleigh) Decker, we were in foul trouble the whole night, she played big in the middle.
"You can't ask any more out of two girls than we have out of those two," Ames added. "They aren't going to fade away into the sunset. They want to win a fourth sectional. I can't say enough good things. Hard working, they practice every night and always come with the right attitude."
Clay City used a 10-1 run in the third quarter to open a double-digit lead and then held off a late Eagles' rally for a 48-41 win on their home court.
South Putnam trailed 23-18 at halftime, but got within 25-21 to start the third period after a 3-pointer from senior Mallory Cash. However, Clay City responded with a 3-pointer from Logan Ellinger, who followed with a jumper. After a free throw by the Eagles' Mattie Varvel, Eels' freshman Alisha Steward drained a 3-pointer and Ellinger capped the pivotal run with a driving lay-in and a 35-22 lead for the Eels.
Ellinger was huge in the game as the junior tallied seven points in each of the middle two periods on her way to 21 points.
"We've talked about getting her more shots and tried to move her off the point and back on to the point," Ames said of Ellinger. "She handles the ball quite a bit for us and tonight I thought she did a really good job of, not only handling the point, but finding opportunities to score in good situations. I thought she rebounded the ball excellent when we were in foul trouble and got some boards for us. I'm glad to see that, she's worked and she loves the game."
While the Eels seemingly had a comfortable lead, Eagle senior Mallory Cash nearly got her team back in it as she scored six late points in the third quarter to get her team within 37-28.
South Putnam continued to rally early in the fourth quarter as Leanna Masters scored and a pair of Brittany Birt jumpers were sandwiched around a 3-pointer by Ellinger. Aubrey Nichols corralled an offensive rebound and sank two free throws to complete a 14-5 Eagles' run to get South Putnam within 40-36 with 4:38 remaining.
That was as close as the Eagles would get however as Steward followed Nichols' shots from the line with a drive and a free throw. Clay City senior Callie Dayhuff, followed with a key, three-play and the lead had ballooned back to 46-36.
South Putnam had one more gasp left as Cash capitalized on a turnover by the Eels with a 3-pointer to cap her 13-point night. Masters added another hoop to get the Eagles within 46-41 with 1:10 left, but could not get over the hump in the final minute despite a 15-point, 14-rebound effort from Masters.
Clay City got 16 points and six rebounds from Steward and the Eels got some pivotal minutes out of their bench with Wolfe in foul trouble much of the game.
"Mahayle Durga hasn't played a lot for us so we've played her a little more in JV games to get her some more minutes. I've told her the last few weeks that we've got a lot of confidence in her, she's working hard and flying after the basketball like we know she can."
The JV Eels gained a 37-15 win paced by 13 points from Raven Allender and seven apiece from Courtney Brown and Emily Rogers. Both Durga and Alexis Price and had four and Claire Miller had two.
Clay City (7-12 overall) wrap up the regular season with a trip to Brown County on Saturday at noon.
At Clay City
South Putnam (41)
Nichols 0-5 2-2 2, Cash 5-16 0-1 13, Birt 2-3 0-1 4, Varvel 2-11 1-2 5, Masters 7-11 1-3 15, Whitaker 0-2 0-0 0, Barnes 1-3 0-0 2. Totals: 17-51 4-9 41.
Clay City (48)
Steward 6-12 3-6 16, Dayhuff 2-9 3-3 7, Wolfe 0-4 0-0 0, Decker 0-1 0-0 0, Ellinger 9-15 0-1 21, Rogers 1-1 0 -0 2, Miller 1-2 0-0 2, Truax 0-9 0-0 0, Durga 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 19-55 6-10 48.
3-point fieldgoals -- SP 3-14 (Cash 3-10, Nichols 0-3, Whitaker 0-1), CC 4-17 (Ellinger 3-7, Steward 1-2, Truax 0-7, Dayhuff 0-1). Total Rebounds -- SP 34 (Masters 14), CC 40 (Steward 6, Ellinger 5, Truax 5). Team Rebounds -- SP 2, CC 10. Total Fouls -- SP 11, CC 15. Turnovers -- SP 9, CC 9.