Eels, Arrows fall in Washington regional games

Mar. 9—The 4,000-plus fans dressed in purple Saturday in Washington's famous Hatchet House didn't have nearly as much fun as the smaller crowds dressed in red.

Clay City brought more than 2,000 purple-clad high school basketball fans for the Class A regional game against Bethesda Christian, and those fans were joyous at halftime before a dominant second half sent the Patriots to a 68-50 win and a trip to the Class A semistate next Saturday.

Many of the Clay City fans, who didn't need to change clothes, stayed around to cheer for Sullivan, but the Golden Arrows ran into the buzzsaw that is top-ranked Brownstown Central and lost the Class 2A part of the day 67-41.

Saturday's opener was strange in that the two teams alternated quarters of total domination. Bethesda Christian overcame an early 5-0 deficit to lead 17-8 at halftime, only to be outscored 23-6 by the Eels in the second quarter.

Clay City's 31-23 halftime lead was wiped out when the Patriots won the third quarter 24-7, and this time the Eels didn't bounce back. Bethesda Christian had a 17-2 run in the fourth quarter.

The difference? Turnovers. Bethesda Christian had a total of three in the first and third quarters but five in the second period, while Clay City had seven in the first quarter and a whopping 10 in the decisive third period, but just one while seemingly taking over the game in the second quarter.

"We could never get the momentum back [in the second half]," coach Chris Ames of Clay City said after the game. "[Bethesda Christian's] quickness on top [of its defense] bothered us, and we weren't able to reverse the ball quick enough ... we got back in the game [in the second quarter] because we were able to turn them over."

Michael Tucker led Clay City with 11 points, while freshman Dailon Keller provided a spark off the bench and scored nine. Ethan Edwards had eight points and a team-high eight rebounds.

Steven Tierney had a game-high 25 points for the Patriots (hitting his last eight shots) while Luke Douglas added 19 and Sam Mlagan 16. Tierney and Douglas also combined for seven steals and seven assists.

Ames was emotional after the game regarding the huge turnout of Eels fans.

"I can't thank the community enough," he said. "I just wish we could've got it done for them."

Maybe next year. Clay City's only seniors are Caden Bettenbrock and Cayden Sawyer.

Sullivan and Brownstown traded the lead back and forth four times in the first quarter, the Golden Arrows going up 11-9 on a three-point play by Javyn Woodard. But Brownstown's Mr. Basketball candidate Jack Benter scored the last seven points of the quarter, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, and the Braves led 16-11.

Benter, incidentally, had also scored his team's first nine points.

Sullivan defenders slowed Benter after that, but Brownstown pulled away anyway. It was 29-18 at halftime, and the Braves opened the second half with an 18-5 run that removed all doubt.

"They have shooters everywhere," coach Jeff Moore of the Golden Arrows said afterward. "You do the best you can to contain Jack, but ...

"I thought our kids played hard," Moore continued. "They all just battled. But [Brownstown's] length hurt us some, and then we rushed some shots."

It was still a successful season for the Golden Arrows, who lose Woodard, Seth Pirtle and Marcus Roshel from their starting lineup and Seb Ortiz and Cam Singer from the bench corps (and the defensive line in the fall).

"It was a great year for these kids," Moore emphasized. "I think we had a better season than a lot of people thought.

"We traveled so far and still won the sectional, beating the three best teams and today we lost to maybe the Class 2A state champions. These kids have nothing to be ashamed of."