The Lynchburg-Clay Mustangs open their season on December 1 when they face Souther Hills Athletic Conference rivals the Ripley Blue Jays in the Ohio Valley Hoops Classic at Southern State Community College in Hillsboro.
The Mustangs are coached by Matt Carson and feature an experienced roster that will be led by six seniors, three of which were starters for the Mustangs last season.
Lynchburg-Clay was unceremoniously bounced out of the tournament in the sectional final game against the Southeastern Panthers by a score of 65-62.
Eric McLaughlin, a junior at the time, led the Mustangs with 27 points in the sectional final loss and will be expected to lead the team again this season.
“This year we are a senior laden group with six seniors on the team. Of those six seniors, five of them were on the varsity roster last season. Seniors are Eric McLaughlin, Blake Croy, Austin Hilt, Noble Walker, Roger Saylor and Quintin Smith,” said Carson.
Carson expects McLaughlin to make those around him better this season, “We will be led by our returning four year starter, Eric. Last year, Eric averaged 20.3 PPG and 10 RPG. He was the SHAC Player of the Year and named third team All-Ohio, First Team Associated Press All-District, and second team District 14 Coaches Association All-District. We are hoping the constant focus on him will open things up for his teammates to get opportunities to score and help with the scoring. We have been seeing that in scrimmages to this point.”
Carson went on to say, “Right now we are getting a lot of leadership from our seniors and our three starters that returned from last season in McLaughlin, Hilt and Pierson. Overall, though, all the kids have shown areas of leadership and working very hard to get better.”
Carson hopes that his team improves throughout the season, “My expectations for the team heading into the season are to get a little better every day in hopes of being the best we can be when tournament time rolls around. So far, we are accomplishing that.”
The Mustangs will look to share the ball more this season and coach Carson is already seeing that from his team.
“I think the strength of the team so far this season has been there willingness to share the basketball. For the most part we’ve been making the extra passes in scrimmages and practices which has helped. I also feel like our overall team speed will be an asset,” said Carson.
Carson is concerned about the teams lack of height, “One thing I think we need to improve on that we can’t do anything about is our height. Our lack of height will put us into some interesting positions defensively this year, so it will be critical that we box out well and use our speed on the perimeter defensively most nights.”
Carson ended by saying, “This is a fun group to be around every day and I’m looking forward to watching them progress this season. More importantly than being great basketball players, they’re even better people.”
Reach Ryan Applegate at 937-402-2572, or on Twitter @RCApplegate89.
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