(Banner Graphic/CAREY FOX) [Order this photo]
The Eels had some other ideas on senior night as 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' senior 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.
Cash attempted to single handedly get South Putnam back into the game as she was fouled after hitting a bucket. Though she missed the ensuing free throw, she snagged the offensive rebound and got the follow-up. She added a jumper to end the quarter to get her team within 37-28 heading into the fourth period.
South Putnam continued to rally early in the quarter as senior Leanna Masters scored and a pair of junior Brittany Birt-jumpers were sandwiched around a 3-pointer by the Eels' Ellinger.
Junior 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 they could not get over the hump in the final minute despite a 15-point, 14-rebound effort from Masters.
Afterwards, South Putnam coach Lindsey Blackman said she was pleased with her team's effort.
"Our girls played hard from the tip to the final buzzer," Blackman said. "Give Clay City credit, they hit shots when they needed to."
With a couple different bounces, Blackman said, things could have gone differently.
"We gave up too many offensive rebounds in the first half in our zone," she said. "We pulled within four in the fourth, but couldn't get over the hump.
Blackman also said Cash's second half, and Masters complete game, helped the Eagles stay in contention.
South Putnam (6-13) wraps up the regular season at home against North Putnam on Friday night while the Eels (7-12) finish at Brown County on Saturday.
At Clay City
South Putnam 7 11 10 13 -- 41
Clay City 10 13 14 11 -- 48
South Putnam (6-13, 1-3): 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 (7-12, 2-5): 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 field goals -- 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.