One down, two to go for the North Daviess boys basketball team.
The Cougars (7-1) defeated Clay City (3-3), 70-62, in the first round of the Graber Post Buildings Classic Friday night at the Cougar Den behind 21 points from Adam Wagler and 17 points from Nick Crays.
The Cougars got off to a fast start in the final game of the night in front of its home crowd, as Clay City struggled from the field.
The host Cougars got 10 points in the opening eight minutes from Wagler as they held a 21-11 advantage after the first quarter.
Wagler's quick start to get the Cougars going was a welcome sight for North Daviess head coach Brent Dalrymple.
"Adam's starting to get some confidence, and he's showing that out on the floor," Dalrymple said. "He's being a leader, and being a senior. He's stepping up, he's playing hard and he's making things happen, and that's exactly what he's supposed to do. It's what he's been doing, and he stepped it up even more." In the second, the Cougars began the quarter a little slow, and Clay City capitalized.
The Eels scored seven of the first nine points in the quarter to cut the lead to 23-18 with five minutes to play before halftime.
North Daviess responded with a 3-pointer from Wagler, and two free throws from senior Tyler Hostetter to push the lead to double digits again, as North Daviess took a 35-24 lead into halftime.
"I liked our first half," Dalrymple said. "It was 35-24, and I thought let's take that, build on it and come out in the third quarter and play. We came out flat." The Eels took the momentum out of the building after the commanding first half by forcing the ball out of Crays' hands with an aggressive press.
Too often Wagler or another front court player was handling the ball, which didn¹t help curtail the Eels run. Clay City cut the lead to 46-39 through three quarters.
"That was my fault, we were running the wrong press breaker," Dalrymple said. "I finally figured it out, and we changed our press breaker to the right one, and then we shot a couple layups. They did a nice job, and we didn't adjust right away." The Eels fought nearly even in the fourth, but couldn't break through falling by the eight-point margin. Clay City was led in scoring by Trevor Singer and Easton Booe, scoring 16 points apiece.
Crays' 17 points was a welcome sight for Dalrymple and the rest of the Cougars faithful after Crays missed much of the previous game with knee pain, the first North Daviess loss of the season.
Crays continually got into the paint and caused havoc on the Eels defense.
"What we discovered last week was more of a scare," Dalrymple said.
North Daviess will take on Orleans in the semi-final round tonight at 6 p.m., a foe that Dalrymple is very familiar with.
"They're one of those teams in Southern Indiana that we pattern our program after," Dalrymple said.
NORTH DAVIESS 21 14 11 24 - 70
CLAY CITY 11 13 15 23 - 62
North Daviess (70) - Crays 5 8-10 1 17, Helms 2 1-4 2 5, Lengacher 2 0-0 3 4, Hostetter 0 5-5 1 5, Wagler 6 7-9 2 21, Byrer 4 3-4 3 11, Buehler 2 1-1 3 5. Totals 21 25-30 15 70.
Clay City (62) - Booe 6 1-2 3 16, Phillips 2 2-2 2 6, L. Cesinger 2 3-4 3 8, B. Cesinger 2 4-8 4 8, Rogers 1 0-0 4 3, Singer 5 3-4 2 16, Miller 1 0-0 1 2. Total 19 14-21 17 62.