It was literally a tale of two halves for the Lynchburg-Clay girls basketball team on Thursday night as their tournament run was ended by No. 3 seed South Point (20-4). The Lady Mustangs (16-7) were playing their usual in-your-face defense on the night and had an abundance of scoring in the first half, but things changed in the second half as South Point made a run after the half and ended up winning 46-40.
The game started with South Point going to the line after a foul on a shot attempt where they made one of two to give the Lady Pioneers the one point advantage. This was the last time South Point would see the lead until late in the fourth quarter. McKayla Binkley put the Lady Mustangs onto the board with a layup with was followed later with a three point basket from her sister Hannah. By the end of the first quarter, Lynchburg had the 19 win Lady Pioneers with their back against the wall with a 14-5 lead.
In the second quarter, the Lynchburg squad only added to their lead, outscoring South Point 11-4 in the second frame. They went into the half with a comfortable 25-9 lead.
After the ten minute break, the Lady Pioneers of South Point came out with a look of determination on their faces. They decided to start pressing the Lady Mustangs and it worked as they outscored Lynchburg14-10 and brought themselves back to within 12 points.
The fourth quarter was where the wheels fell off for the Lynchburg girls team. Roles were reversed from the first quarter as the Lady Mustangs were only able to mount five points in the eight minute frame. On the other hand, South Point erupted for 23 in the final quarter taking back the lead and ultimately, the win.
The quarter started with the Lady Pioneers picking up right where they left off scoring the first six points. Lynchburg’s Lexi Waits was then subbed in and, shortly after, buried a three point basket from the side to douse the hot streak of South Point. This put the score at 38-29 in favor of the Lynchburg girls with 4:42 left to play. The Lady Pioneers came right back on their next possesion to score a layup for two points to bring them back to within seven points, but Sarah Rosselott came back down the floor on a press break and put up a shot from under the basket to extend the lead to nine, 40-31. Unfortunately, Rosselott was the last Lady Mustang to score. The Lady Pioneers went on a 15-0 run in the final four minutes of play, regaining the lead (their first since the very beginning of the game), and going on to win 46-40.
“We came out in the first half and played phenomenal defense,” Lady Mustangs coach Whitney Lewis said after the tough loss. “[South Point] scored nine points the whole first half and, in a district game, you don’t see that that often. Second half, I don’t know what happened. We still played great defense, they just came out and played a lot better. You don’t get this far (in the tournament) by being a mediocre team. They came out in the second half ready to go. We turned the ball over too much in the second half when they put that press on. We also didn’t finish some easy shots there at the end to put us back up when [South Point] was making their run and that hurt us. I think that was the difference in the game.”
The Lady Mustangs only have one senior on the team in Sarah Rosselott. Lewis commented on her improvement from last year to this year and her leadership on the floor.
“Sarah is out senior,” Lewis said of Rosselott. “I’ve been saying all year that she’s a leader on this team. She had a great game tonight. She just battles and never gives up. She had nine points tonight and ended up fouling out because she was playing hard and going after the ball.”
“It always sucks to lose the last game in tournament,” Lewis continued. “It just does. As a senior, to have it end like this, especially when we were playing so well there in the first half. She has nothing to hang her head about though. She doubled her points from last year and really stepped up as a leader. You can’t ask for much more than that.”
The Lady Mustangs are now 16-7 on the year with a make up game this Saturday against Peebles. Lewis had encouraging things to say about her team on the year as a whole.
“We’re 16-7 now with a league make up game on Saturday and, as young as we are, that’s great,” Lewis said of her team’s success. “From the first game to this game, we’ve definitely improved on all ends of the ball, especially defensively. I’m looking forward to what we have coming up and we’ll kind of see what happens.”
SPHS – 5 4 14 23 – 46
LCHS – 14 11 10 5 – 40
South Point: Bradburn 6 – 12, Rawlins 2 5/8 – 9, Justice 1 6/6 – 8, Carey 2 2/7 – 6, Winkler (1) 3/4 – 6, Badge 3/4 – 3, Bacon 1 – 2. Totals: 12(1) 19/29 – 46.
Lynchburg-Clay: Rosselott 3 3/4 – 9, Little 4 1/2 – 9, H. Binkley 1(2) 0/2 – 8, Fittro 1 2/2 – 5, Creighton 2 – 4, Waits (1) – 3, M. Binkley 1 – 2. Totals: 11(4) 6/10 – 40.
Robert Stegbauer is a staff reporter for the Times-Gazette. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @RStegbauer.