Editor’s note – This is a part of a continuing series of previews for the third annual Ohio Valley Hoops Classic Basketball Tournament that will be played Dec. 2-4 at the Southern State Patriot Center in Hillsboro.
The Lynchburg-Clay Mustangs and New Richmond Lions will tip-off this year’s Ohio Valley Hoops Classic when they take to the Patriot Center floor at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2. Coach Matt Carson and his Mustangs hope this year’s journey proves to be as magical as last season’s.
The 2015-16 basketball campaign was indeed a historic one for the Lynchburg-Clay boys. The Mustangs won a school record 25 games on their way to the school’s first appearance in the OHSAA Final Four since 1993. Nine seniors graduated from that team, including Devin Pierson, the school’s second all-time leading scorer who poured in 19.4 points per game last season.
While nine seniors departed, Carson welcomes back three All-Southern Hills Athletic Conference players to lead the charge this year. Joe Giordano, Eric McLaughlin and River Mullins earned all-conference honors while averaging 11.9, 11.5 and 7.7 points, respectively.
“Joe, River and Eric are three very talented players who will bring experience and stability to our squad this year,” said Lynchburg-Clay coach Matt Carson, who also welcomes back three other seniors in A.J. Stroop, Michael Heindel and Brian Lampkin. They have been in the coach’s program since he arrived at L-C three years ago. Added to that mix will be several players moving up from a 16-5 jayvee team.
“These guys are hungry to leave their own mark on Lynchburg-Clay basketball. It is a process. We want to take it one day at a time, get better each day, and take nothing for granted,” said the Mustang mentor.
Coach Brian McMonigle’s New Richmond Lions were 10-13 a year ago and four seniors graduated from that team. However, the Lions return their entire front court from that team. Anchoring that group is 6-4 senior Gage Kramer, who averaged 13.1 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Juniors Nick Sanchez and Lane Flamm both played significant minutes as sophomores last season and look to fill bigger roles this year. Several players will move up from a highly successful jayvee team.
McMonigle looks forward to meeting Lynchburg.
“We are always looking for a challenge and Lynchburg certainly provides that as they were a final four team last year and return some top players from that team. We are happy to play in an event featuring so many high level teams,” said the New Richmond mentor.
This is a tough game to predict. Lynchburg-Clay obviously lost a lot of talent from last year’s state tournament team. But, the Mustangs also return three very talented players and welcome some very good players from a nice jayvee team. New Richmond’s front court is imposing and will be a big challenge for Lynchburg-Clay. A lot will depend on whether the Lions can get consistent guard play. The game will certainly be a good barometer of how high the ceiling is for this year’s Mustangs.
As an interesting side note to this game: New Richmond Athletic Director Doug Foote is a 1977 Lynchburg-Clay graduate. He coached at his alma mater from 1983-87, then moved on to college coaching stints at Rio Grande and Marietta, spending the last 15 years of his coaching career as the men’s coach at Marietta. In addition to his athletic director duties, Foote is also president of the OHSAA’s Southwest District Athletic Board.
This story was submitted by Bennie Carroll, the Ohio Valley Hoops Classic director and girls varsity basketball coach at Blanchester High School.