BLACKSVILLE — Sometimes you just need a win.
Heading into Tuesday’s home game against Tygarts Valley, the Clay-Battelle girls’ basketball team had lost two straight and three of four, so the Cee-Bees were more than ready to add a win.
Kenley Statler provided it, too.
The junior center scored 30 points to lead the Cee-Bees to a 49-44 victory.
Clay-Battelle (5-6) got off to a solid start in its half-court offensive, especially when they fed Statler in the post.
The solid, fundamentally sound center scored six first-quarter points, leading to a 13-8 first quarter lead.
Then, when the Bulldogs (0-10) fought back in the middle of the second quarter, Statler took over offensively, scoring all 10 of the Cee-Bees’ second-quarter points to help forge a 23-17 halftime lead.
Midway through the third, C-B stretched out to a 31-19 lead on the strength of Statler (two lay-ups and a smooth rainbow jumper from the wing) plus some aggressive drives from Elyse Moore.
But when Statler picked up her third foul with 3:30 left, Statler went to the bench and C-B coach David Joyce went to a four corners-style spread offense, with two specific goals in mind.
“We needed some time to rest our legs and catch our breath,” he admitted, “and also to protect Kenley. So we wanted to wind some clock, and we were willing to trade points for minutes.”
Both teams — anxious to make big plays on offense — turned the ball over with a series of wildly optimistic passes, but the Bulldogs lived up to their nickname by grinding to within four at 39-35 with five minutes left.
However, Statler once again imposed her will in crunch time, driving hard for a lay-up, sliding down the baseline and into the paint for a lefty jump hook, then taking a feed from Laikyn Dalton (after the C-B point guard broke the Tygarts Valley press all by herself) for an easy lay-in for her 30th point of the night.
That bucket put the Cee-Bees up 49-39 with 1:04 left, and all but iced the victory.
When asked where her offensive outburst came from, Statler grinned a wide, 30-point grin.
“I have no idea,” she said. “All I knew was, I felt really ready to play tonight during warm-ups. I felt in the flow all night long, and I just wanted the ball tonight for some reason. Some games, you look for other open teammates, but I guess it was just my turn tonight. And when you’re feeling it, when your team passes it to you in the right spot, it just feels great, feels right.”
As for her coach, there really wasn’t much surprise in Statler’s production as there was satisfaction.
“I told her I’ve been waiting for this for three years,” he smiled. “She’s so good with either hand down low, can play facing the basket or in the pivot, and she’s very unselfish as well. Tonight, she was just very aggressive in getting open and then looking for her shot, and she led us all the way to a big win.”
Clay-Battelle hosts Trinity at 7 p.m. Wednesday.