The temperature was a welcomed 50-plus degrees outside Saturday, but inside John R. Wooden Gymnasium it felt like zero for Clay City’s Eels.
Hitting just 20 percent of their shots from the floor, the Eels fell to Jac-Cen-Den 48-38 in the second game of the Class A Martinsville Regional for boys high school basketball.
Clay City (15-9) hit just 14 of 67 shots from the floor, including a frigid 1 for 17 from 3-point range and a lukewarm 9 of 17 (53 percent) from the free-throw line. Add 18 turnovers, seven shots blocked by Jac-Cen-Del and the Eagles’ 17-for-27 free-throw shooting and it is clear why the Eels lost in the regional for the second year in a row.
“We couldn’t buy a basket. We had some things that just didn’t go our way today. We struggled. That’s all there was to it. But hopefully we can rebound from this, take some cues off of it and work harder in the summer and get back here again. Maybe a third time will be a charm,” Clay City coach Vance Edmondson said.
Jac-Cen-Del (9-15) played University High in the regional championship game Saturday night. University beat Baptist Academy 46-39 in the regional opener.
Blake Cesinger, Clay City’s only senior, led the Eels in every way. Cesinger, who was injured in the semifinals of the sectional and didn’t practice this week for that reason, scored 13 points, grabbed 17 rebounds and came up with six steals. He was the only Clay City player to score in double figures.
Jac-Cen-Del was led by 6-foot-5 freshman Evan Borgman, who came off the bench to net 10 points, eight rebounds and three of the Eagles’ seven blocked shots.
Borgman was one of three long-armed shot-blockers who disrupted Clay City’s shooting.
“We weren’t making any 3s and we were trying to [drive] to the hole and they had a couple of long, skinny kids [under the basket] who were altering some shots. We tried to stress attacking the rim hard and not try to avoid the contact, but get into it. I thought we did a good job of that. We just didn’t get any calls and get to the line,” Edmondson said.
Blake Cesinger got the Eels off to a great start with two baskets, a steal and a pass inside to Josh Miller for a 6-3 Clay City lead. Logan Cesinger hit three free throws to give the Eels a 9-3 lead. And with his toe on the line, Easton Booe hit a basket at the buzzer to give the Eels an 11-6 advantage going into the second period.
Clay City took an 18-10 lead midway through the second quarter with Steven Phillips coming off the bench to hit a 3 and Booe scoring a putback. But it was nearly two minutes into the third quarter before the Eels scored again.
Jac-Cen-Del closed the first half with a 5-0 run, cutting the Eels’ halftime edge to 18-15, and opened the second with a 5-0 run to put the Eagles up 20-18.
“It seemed like every time we tried to pull away, [Jac-Cen-Del would] come up with a couple of baskets. We had quite a few turnovers  that first half. We couldn’t seem to build up a good enough lead in the first half,” Edmondson said.
Clay City hit just 2 of 14 shots from the floor in the third quarter and turned the ball over five times. The Eagles led 27-24 going into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Jac-Cen-Del hit 15 of 22 free throws to pull away from Clay City.
With 1:33 to play, Blake Cesinger put back a rebound to bring the Eels within four at 41-37. But Jac-Cen-Del hit free throws and the Eels could not hit the basket after that.
“Turnovers and shots just not going in. We just didn’t have it today,” Edmondson said.
JAC-CEN-DEL (48) — Hooton 1-4 4-4 7, Comer 3-7 1-6 8, Siebert 1-3 2-4 8, Smith 2-3 4-6 8, Brown 1-4 0-0 3, Borgman 3-3 4-4 10, Harmeyer 2-5 0-0 4, Pilz 1-2 1-2 3, Anderson 0-1 0-0 0, Huff 0-1 1-1 1. Totals 14-33 FG, 17-27 FT, 48 TP.
CLAY CITY (38) — Rogers 0-9 2-4 2, Singer 3-18 3-4 9, Miller 2-4 0-1 4, B.Cesinger 6-21 1-4 13, L.Cesinger 0-2 3-4 3, Booe 2-7 0-0 4, Yocom 0-0 0-0 0, Myers 0-1 0-0 0, Phillips 1-5 0-0 3. Totals 14-67 FG, 9-17 FT, 38 TP.
Jac-Cen-Del 6 9 12 21 — 48
Clay City 11 7 6 14 — 38
3-point shooting — JCD 3-13 (Brown 1-3, Hooton 1-4, Comer 1-4, Smith 0-1, Huff 0-1), CC 1-17 (Phillips 1-2, Myers 0-1, Booe 0-1, Rogers 0-6, Singer 0-7). Total fouls — JCD 15, CC 23. Fouled out — none. Turnovers — JCD 19, CC 18. Rebounds — JDC 43 (Borgman 8, Siebert 7, Comer 7), CC 44 (B.Cesinger 17, Singer 8, Miller 5). Steals — JCD 4 (Comer 4), CC 10 (B.Cesinger 6). Blocks — JCD 7 (Borgman 3, Hooton 2).
Next — Clay City closed its season 15-9. Jac-Cen-Del (9-15) moved on to play University High in the regional championship game Saturday night.