The Eels followed up a solid performance against Class 2A fifth-ranked Eastern Greene in a loss, by putting forth a lackluster effort in the Saturday follow-up against a Cloverdale team that came in with a 5-7 mark overall.
The resulting 40-35 defeat left Clay City coach Vance Edmondson disappointed after a spirited effort against unbeaten Eastern (Greene) the evening before.
"I think (Cloverdale) wanted it a little more than we did tonight," Edmondson said. "I thought after the last couple of weeks that we had kind of turned a corner, we had done some really good things, but we took a big step back tonight. I think it was because of our lack of intensity."
Cloverdale opened the game with a 10-5 advantage after the first period as senior Jordan Hayden knocked down a pair of 3-pointers. However, Clay City rebounded to take an 11-10 lead three minutes into the second quarter as Ben Denker, Jake Tiefel and Tyler Bridgewater scored.
After Cloverdale came up empty on a possession with five minutes left in the half, the Eels opted to slow the game down and hold the ball just inside the halfcourt line. The Clovers didn't come up to challenge the Eels' Justin Rodgers, so the clock continued to tick as both teams, and a surprised crowd, watched the stalemate.
"We're down 10-5 and we come out and get six, quick points and get a lead. We felt that (the slow down) was the right thing to do, I thought it was the right thing to do," Edmondson said. "Shorten up the possessions of the game, hindsight is 20/20, maybe we shouldn't have done it, but when you've got a lead and somebody is not going to guard you. . ."
After 4:50 of clock had run off, the Eels went for a final score in the final seconds, but the Clovers deflected a pass and Clay City was unable to get a final shot off before the horn.
The Clovers' zone defense didn't allow Clay City many drives to the basket and the Eels uncharacteristically struggled to hit any shots from the perimeter, hitting only one-of-nine 3-pointer attempts in the game.
"(Cloverdale) did a good job of being wide and taking away the one thing that we do well, which is penetration," Edmondson said. "The few times that we could get it inside, they just collapsed and we were fortunate enough to get a few baskets, but anytime we had to kick it out, we couldn't hit any shots. When you are playing against a zone, you've got to be able to shoot the ball from the outside and we didn't do that particularly well tonight."
Opening the second half, Cloverdale scored 10 of the first 11 points of the second half, punctuated by another 3-pointer from Hayden, to take a 20-12 lead.
The Eels played from behind the remainder of the contest after turning the ball over seven times in the third quarter to fall back 25-17 heading into the final quarter.
What was already a heated contest, got a little warmer to start the fourth period as an intentional foul was called on Ben Denker as he made body contact with Cloverdale's Donavan Scisney on a breakaway. Though Denker made the block, Scisney knocked down one-of-two shots from the line to push the lead to 26-17.
The Eels clawed back to within 28-26 with pressure defense as Rodgers scored on a drive, Bridgewater added a three-point play and followed a Clovers' turnover with two free throws. A steal by Tiefel led to a score by Josh Decker and the lead was clipped to 28-26.
With a chance to tie the score, Clay City came up empty, Scisney hit a free throw and the junior guard followed with a steal and a lay-in. An Eels' turnover preceded two free throws by Joe Fidler that quickly pushed the Cloverdale lead back to 33-26. The Clovers' advantage grew to 38-28 with under two minutes to go and Clay City couldn't get back to even.
The Eels got back to within 39-35 on a leaner by Tiefel with 14 seconds left, but couldn't get any closer as Clay City dropped to 4-9 overall. The Eels haven't won back-to-back games this season while Cloverdale has now won four-of-five to improve to 6-7 overall.
The Clay City junior varsity team won 38-26 as Colten Harbour scored 10 points and Joshua Arsenal added nine.
At Clay City
Cloverdale 10 0 15 15 -- 40
Clay City 5 6 6 18 -- 35
Scisney 2-4 3-7 7, Strunk 2-4 0-1 4, Fidler 1-4 2-4 5, Hayden 4-5 4-6 15,
Williams 3-7 3-6 9, Burdette 0-1 0-0 0, Skiles 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 12-26 13-25 40.
Clay City (35)
Denker 2-6 1-2 6, Decker 2-3 0-2 4, Rodgers 2-8 0-0 4, Tiefel 2-6 4-4 8,
Bridgewater 4-9 5-6 13, Allen 0-0 0-0 0, Harbour 0-1 0-0 0, Smith 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 12-33 6-10 35.
3-point fieldgoals -- CL 3-6 (Hayden 3-4, Scisney 0-1, Skiles 0-1), CC 1-9 (Denker 1-4, Decker 0-1, Rodgers 0-3, Tiefel 0-1). Total Rebounds -- CL 18 (Hayden 5, Williams 4), CC 21 (Bridgewater 8, Tiefel 5, Decker 5). Total Fouls -- CL 12, CC 15. Fouled out -- CC (Denker). Turnovers -- CL 14, CC 14.