(Banner Graphic/CAREY FOX) [Order this photo]
The Clovers overcame an eight-point deficit in the third quarter to take a one-point lead heading into the final period, but Clay City came away with a 39-32 victory.
"I feel like we missed an opportunity to get a win," Cloverdale coach Matthew Langdon said. "Our girls' effort was there tonight."
The Eels came out of the halftime break poised to put the game away quickly 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.
However, the Clovers responded by upping the defensive pressure, which immediately sparked their offense.
Senior 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 senior Bristy Skiles drilled a three-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 seven-of-12 in the period to take a one-point lead into the fourth period.
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.
"We just lost focus sometimes on the offensive and defensive end," Langdon said. "It was a very close game all the way through. We just made the mistakes you cannot make and expect to still win the game."
The Eels' coach noted the confidence Truax showed in taking an important shot despite struggling from the field.
"You live and die by (the three-pointer) sometimes, but right then it was a huge play," Clay City coach Chris 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 got within 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 three-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.
Cloverdale got 12 points from Gruener, who also had seven rebounds. Nally added nine points and Sydney Shrum had six boards.
"This was a tough one for our girls, but we will use this game to se see what we need to improve on and get ready for our holiday tournament."
Cloverdale (4-7 overall) returns to action in the Clinton Prairie Tourney on Dec. 28.
At Clay City
Cloverdale 7 5 15 5 -- 32
Clay City 12 6 8 13 -- 39
Cloverdale: 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: 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 field goals: 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.