Times Sports Editor
JASONVILLE -- When Clay City and Shakamak square off on the hardwood it's nearly a guarantee that it will be a slugfest until the final horn and Friday's SWIAC tussle was no different.
Clay City senior Blake Cesinger tied the game in regulation with a 3-pointer from the corner with 27 seconds left and the Eels hit four free throws to go with a bucket from Logan Cesinger to edge out the Lakers in overtime, 53-49.
The decision gives the Eels a 4-3 mark over the last five seasons and puts the Eels at 4-2 in the conference.
"Shakamak is a tough team. I still think our sectional is up for grabs. We played WRV solid last week, we had a tough one with Shakamak tonight, Eminence and Dugger is right on the verge," Clay City coach Vance Edmondson said. "Any time you can come to Shakamak and get a win, it's a good win no matter how you do it. It may not have been pretty for us, but we got it done tonight."
The Eels jumped out to a quick 9-0 lead in the opening period on a 3-pointer from Trevor Singer and four points from junior Josh Miller. Meanwhile, Clay City's defense was busy locking down Shakamak's high scoring senior guard Brodie Crowe, who missed his first three from beyond the arc.
The result was an 11-3 lead at the first stop as Shakamak missed seven of its eight shots from the field over the opening eight minutes.
The Lakers shooting woes were short lived much to the Eels' collective chagrin.
Crowe fired back to nail his next three from 3-point range and the Lakers shot themselves right back into a tie at halftime, hitting four from beyond the arc in the second quarter.
Clay City jumped right back with a 9-2 run as Singer scored off a turnover and added a free throw off a steal that followed a three-point play by Miller, who had nine points.
"Josh has played really solid for us the last month and a half of the season. He's been crucial for us," Edmondson said. "When we penetrate and they are covering our 3's, Josh has got to be the guy that has to be there to hit buckets, get fouled and make free throws. He did that tonight."
A free throw by Easton Booe put the Eels on top 34-32 to end the third period and set the stage for a wild, final eight minutes in regulation.
A jumper by Patrick Green and a score by Crowe off a lob pass put the Lakers up 41-39 before Singer went baseline for a bucket and a tie game.
The Lakers went up 45-42 late in regulation off two free throws by Crowe after the Eels' Logan Cesinger left the game with what appeared to be a knee injury.
With Cesinger on the bench, Clay City forced a turnover on the baseline and after a missed shot caromed to the corner, Blake Cesinger snagged the offensive rebound and nailed a 3-pointer from the side to tie the game and leave his coach slightly in disbelief.
"I don't know how he does it," Edmondson joked. "The kid just plays. He plays hard all the time. Sometimes I think he just wills us to win. When he tracked that ball down in the corner. . .it rolled right out there to him and he turned and fired it. When he let it go I thought it had a good chance of going in. That was a big momentum lift for us going into overtime."
Prior to overtime, Logan Cesinger rejoined his teammates after testing out his knee and then opened the extra session with an offensive rebound and a put back for his only point of the game. However, Edmondson credited Cesinger for his work outside of the scorebook.
"The scorebook might not show it, but (Logan Cesinger) really did a good job on (Brodie) Crowe, especially late in the game when we needed stops. He was right there on him and he got help from his teammates," Edmondson said. "That was a big basket. I didn't know if he was going to be able to go, it looked pretty ugly because he just stopped and there was no one around him. He stepped up and told me he was ready to go."
The Lakers got back within 49-48 after a three-point play by Green, but Booe hit a free throw and Blake Cesinger completed an 18-point, 11-rebound night with three late free throws to seal the victory.
In junior varsity play, the Eels got 27 points from Noah Denker and hit a combined seven 3-pointers in a 44-34 victory. Austin Stevenson had six and Paiden Myers added five.
The victory improves Clay City to 10-7 overall heading into a home contest on Thursday against North Central at 6 p.m.
Clay City (53)
L.Cesinger 1-3 0-0 2, B.Cesinger 6-13 5-8 18, Rogers 1-8 1-1 3, Singer 6-13 2-3 16, Miller 2-5 5-9 9, Booe 1-2 2-4 4, Phillips 0-1 1-2 1, Yocom 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 17-45 12-21 53.
Crowe 7-22 6-8 23, Schubla 2-4 0-0 5, Collins 0-4 0-0 0, Green 2-5 6-7 10, Morin 3-5 0-2 6, West 1-1 0-0 3, Bessling 1-1 0-0 2, Cox. Totals: 16-42 12-17 49.
3-point fieldgoals -- CC 3-15 (Singer 2-7, B.Cesinger 1-1, Rogers 0-6, L.Cesinger 0-1), SH 5-15 (Crowe 3-9, Schubla 1-2, West 1-1, Collins 0-3). Total Rebounds -- CC 31 (B.Cesinger 11, Miller 5), SH 25 (Crowe 7, Morin 6). Total Fouls -- CC 16, SH 22. Fouled out - SH (Schubla). Turnovers -- CC 11, SH 13.