The Lynchburg-Clay Mustangs’ (25-3) record setting season finally came to an end on Thursday morning in the state semi finals game against Cleveland Villa St. Joseph (23-5) with a final score of 81-64. Even though the final score showed a difference of 17 points, this was not a very accurate representation of how the game went as the Lynchburg-Clay played right with their opponents for a majority of the game.
Ending the season at 25-3 sets a new school record for the best season record for a boys team in Lynchburg High School history.
As the game started, it was clear that the Mustangs would have to be on their ‘A’ game to win the game. Devin Pierson, the game’s leading scorer with 28 points, led the game off for the Mustangs with a layup just 15 seconds after opening tip-off. The Vikings answered soon after on their first possession to make it 2-2. The whole first quarter was one team getting two three points ahead and then the other team switching that role and going up. By the end of the first eight minutes, the game was tied at 15 points a piece.
In the second quarter, it was more of the same, neither team able to dominate the other and the score staying close. Pierson notched seven points in the quarter, including a three pointer. Towards the end of the half, it looked as if the Mustangs would go to the locker room down by seven points with the score at 31-24, but with three seconds left, Joe Giordano was fouled and sent to the line for the one-and-one opportunity. Giordano made the first to make it 31-25 but missed the second, but was able to steal the ball and throw up a three pointer as the buzzer sounded. The ball went through the net and was counted and the Mustangs went into the half still down but trimmed to three at 31-28.
A lot of people will tell you, that whoever comes out of the locker room and wins the third quarter, has a really good shot at winning a basketball game. SO far this tournament, that quarter, and the second half as a whole, has been the strong point of the Mustangs basketball team. On Thursday morning it was not. The Vikings of Villa St. Joseph came out on a roll and were able to hold the Mustangs to 14 points in the eight minutes, while tallying 22 themselves. At the end of the third, it was Lynchburg down by 11, 53-42.
In the fourth quarter, the Mustangs fought hard and scrapped for every point. They were able to trim the lead down to eight points at one point, but that was the closest they could get, as they continued to trade baskets throughout. The Vikings continued to extend their lead as the clock ran down. Lynchburg’s Head Coach Matt Carson took the final minute to get his subs into the game, and the final Mustang points came from senior Noah Scott with a three pointer of an assist from Brandon Storer. Villa scored one more time with six seconds left in the game to bring the final score to 81-64.
“I like the way the game started out,” said Lynchburg Head Coach Matt Carson after the game. “We talked about it all week about not changing what got us here. We’re a team that likes to trap when we can and we like to play multiple defenses. Credit [Villa]. They did a good job of moving the ball around and finding their open shooters. There is a double edged sword when playing that zone is that you can get hurt on the offensive boards and that happened and I think it was the difference in the first half. I think they got around 18 more shots than us in the first half.
“I think if we could have kept them off the boards a little more, that would have helped but at the end day, their point guard was the difference in the game. We did not face a point guard all year that was at his level of quickness.
“This experience has been great. We’ve had tremendous support from our community during this run from making signs to selling over 1500 tickets for this game and having all that gold out there in the stands. Coming from a small rural area like we do, it wasn’t just our community that was excited about this, it was our county and our conference. For us to get the opportunity to get to do this and represent those things has been a great experience that the kids have been very humbled and gracious about. They’re not just the best players I’ve ever had the privilege of coaching but their also some of the greatest people to be around.”
“We have the 28 day dead period coming up and after that, we’re going to be going back after it in the gym because we have a league title to defend. I feel like we have a program that is moving in the right direction and these seniors have set the bar really high for us and we’re hoping to just add that as we go along. They’ve worked really hard and came together as a team and I’m just so proud of them and believe they will be successful in anything they decide they want to do.”
CVSJ – 15 16 22 28 – 81
LCHS – 15 13 14 22 – 64
Villa St. Joseph: Higgins 5 6/7 – 16; Roberts 7 0/1 – 14; Dean III 3(2) 2/2 – 14; McGarry 5 1/2 – 11; Gaffney 5 1/3 – 11; Stauffer 2 – 4; Butler 1 2/2 – 4; Newlon (1) – 3; George 1 – 2; Turk 1 – 2. Totals: 30(3) 12/17 – 81
Lynchburg-Clay: Pierson 6(2) 10/10 – 28; Giordano 1(1) 7/8 – 12; Blankenship 3(1) 2/2 – 11; McLaughlin 2 – 4; Mullins 4/4 – 4; Scott (1) – 3; Ahrmann 1 – 2. Totals: 13(5) 23/26 – 64
Reach Robert Stegbauer at 937-393-3456 ext. 1679 or on Twitter @RStegbauer.