Eels survive frenetic finish for road victory
SULLIVAN — The Clay City Eels rode a strong opening quarter to a season-opening girls’ basketball game Saturday evening. The Eels scored 21 first quarter points and held off a surge by Sullivan to claim a 46-38 victory on the road.
Senior Kyndall Boyll carried the Eels to the finish line by hitting six free throws in the fourth quarter and scored eight of her 15 points in the quarter. The late free throws enabled the Eels to counter nine turnovers in the period.
“We hung in there and hit enough foul shots there at the end. (Kyndall Boyll) is so fun to watch. She’s very athletic, keeps her head up and goes hard to the basket,” Clay City coach Chris Ames said of the senior forward. “She just carried us there in the fourth quarter.”
Clay City jumped out to a 21-9 lead after one quarter of play paced by efficient scoring as Harley Sinders, Avalee Jeffers and Madelyn Ames each had two field goals.
Ames knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the quarter to stretch the Sullivan defense and open up Jeffers for good looks in the post. Sinders drove ferociously to the rim for a pair of buckets as the Eels hit 8-of-16 shots from the field and all three free throws.
Ames wasn’t exactly expecting his team to get rolling so well in the season opener as Sullivan already had a game under its belt, losing to Vincennes Lincoln on Thursday evening.
“Unfortunately we started off so well and it was difficult to keep that momentum. The defense is ahead of your offense this time of year. We got off to a good start and it really gave us some confidence,” Ames said of the Eels’ 50-percent first quarter shooting. “It helped us to buy into what we wanted to accomplish tonight.
“Wins are good. Coaches will say that any win is a good win,” Ames continued. “It’s nice to come down here and Sullivan has already had a game against Vincennes Lincoln, a good 3A school, so Sullivan kind of had one on us tonight. We don’t play a lot of Saturday games the first game of the year and to come on the road, I was pleased with our effort all night.”
Sullivan began to chip away at the lead a bit in the second quarter as senior forward Ashley Durall scored four of her eight points to go with a game-high 14 rebounds. The Golden Arrows crept within 27-20 at intermission paced by nine points from freshman point guard Reagan Holeman.
Clay City had designs on putting the game away early in the third period as Jeffers scored off an offensive rebound and followed with her eighth point of the contest for a 31-22 Eels’ advantage. However, Sullivan countered with a four-point play as Sydney Akers drained a 3-pointer and was fouled. Her free throw with 3:22 in the quarter got Sullivan back within 31-26.
The Eels responded quickly as Sinders found Jeffers with a lob pass to the post and a lay-in. Ames followed by hitting a 3-pointer off an inbound pass as the lead grew back to nine points at 36-27.
Sullivan began to turn up the pressure in the fourth quarter with full court pressure. The Eels didn’t handle it well for several stretches, including a stretch of five consecutive turnovers.
Sullivan’s Dureall got the Arrows within 41-35 with five straight points.
With 4:36 remaining, the Eels were looking for some stability as Sullivan’s pressure forced nine turnovers in the final quarter and a total of 15 in the second half.
Boyll stepped in when the Eels needed her most as she hit a pair of free throws and followed with a steal and another shot from the line to push the gap back to 44-35. From that point, Sullivan was unable to find its shooting range and Boyll and Jeffers combined for seven fourth quarter rebounds.
Boyll lead with 15 points for the Eels and added seven rebounds. Jeffers posted 11 points and 11 boards with Ames contributing 11 points. Sinders scored seven points and the Eels got solid minutes off their bench. Kinley Dickson had four rebounds and two points in the game in limited minutes.
“We had some kids come off the bench and I thought Kinley Dickson did a really nice job for us in her spot minutes in her first varsity time,” Ames noted. “Madelyn Ames came in and did an awesome job and played her role well. Jeana Everhart does what we ask of her.”
In the junior varsity game, Clay City lost a 42-31 decision despite nine points from Aysiah Hernandez and seven from Hayley Walton. Andrea Steward added six.