GRAFTON — Clay-Battelle overcame a sluggish first half with a 9-0 run late in the third quarter Friday that made all the difference for the Cee-Bees in a 44-35 victory against Robert C. Byrd.
With the win, Clay-Battelle improved to 3-0 and claimed the championship of the Sam Bord Memorial Tournament at Grafton High School.
Trailing 24-23 just inside the 3-minute mark of the third quarter, Clay-Battelle jumped in front for good on a 3-pointer by freshman Alivia Ammons.
Teammates Joleigh Sollars and Rylee Burnette followed with 3s of their own, the latter of which gave the Cee-Bees a 32-24 advantage 40 seconds before the start of the fourth quarter.
“We did not have the height to compete inside, and this year we’ve been used to being pressured man-to-man pretty hard because people guard our two guards,” Cee-Bees coach David Joyce said. “Our kids are so young most teams want to pressure us. When they didn’t do that and sat in the 2-3 zone tonight, that plays so much into our game plan because we are good 3-point shooters, yet we couldn’t buy a 3-point bucket.
“But I didn’t take the green light off because those girls are good enough shooters and they finally fell about the time we needed them.”
A layup by Camren Watson upped the Cee-Bees’ lead to 36-26 with 7:15 remaining, although the Eagles (2-3) didn’t go away quietly. Instead, RCB cut the deficit in half on a Kamryn Weaver layup off a steal followed by Gillian Weaver’s 3 with 5:44 to play.
But the Cee-Bees, again, had an answer, getting back-to-back baskets from Autumn Stewart — who had not made a field goal until that point — to seize control again and take a nine-point lead.
The Eagles closed the gap to five points once more after Gillian Weaver and Haley Willey each accounted for a field goal, but Burnette made four free throws in the final 31 seconds to ensure her team would remain unbeaten.
“We played hard and cut it down to five after it was a 10-point lead there late, and we didn’t quit,” RCB coach Jon Griffin said. “We’re taking baby steps.”
RCB held a 10-6 lead through one quarter after the Cee-Bees struggled mightily on the offensive end through the first 8 minutes, making only 2 of 16 field goals.
But Clay-Battelle hit its first two of five 3s on the night in the second quarter, the latter of which Ammons made to tie the game at 14. McKenzie Lamm’s 3-pointer allowed the Eagles to regain the lead, before a Burnette layup brought the Cee-Bees to within 17-16 at halftime.
Burnette led all players with 18 points and added five rebounds and five assists. Ammons chipped in with a double double of 12 points and 10 boards.
Gillian Weaver led the Eagles with 17 points, while Kamryn Weaver grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds in the loss.
Clay-Battelle also forced 13 turnovers and committed only seven, while outscoring the Eagles 7-0 from the free-throw line.
“One thing that hurt us all throughout the game was the free-throw line,” Griffin said. “We didn’t get many attempts and didn’t score at all from the line.”
Burnette was named the tournament’s most valuable player.