It was a tournament type atmosphere in the Peebles High School gymnasium on Friday night as the Lynchburg-Clay Mustangs looked to go for the sweep against their Southern Hills Athletic Conference opponents. Coming into the game, the Mustangs needed to win the game to win the SHAC outright. Losing meant a share with the Peebles Indians. The Lynchburg boys had beaten the Indians earlier in the year, taking an overtime to do so, and it looked as if they may have to happen again on Friday night. But the Mustangs clamped down on defense with a slim lead and made sure they were the SHAC Champs with a 57-51 victory.
The Peebles Indians took the lead early in the game, winning the tip-off and making a three pointer with just seven second ticking off the clock. The Mustangs played neck-and-neck with them most of the game, but the Indians found a way to keep at least a two point lead on their opponents. At the half, the Lynchburg squad found themselves down 29-26.
The Mustangs’ run started late in the third quarter; a run that would eventually lead them to victory and a SHAC title.
The Mustangs and Indians went back and forth in the first four minutes of play, each team matching the others’ made basket. With 2:38 left to play in the third, the Mustangs stole the ball at the top of the key and threw the ball out to River Mullins to slammed one down and bringing every Lynchburg fan to their feet and forcing a Peebles timeout. At the end of the quarter, the Mustangs had cut their deficit to just one point, 41-40.
Peebles started the fourth frame out with a two pointer but Lynchburg’s Devin Pierson quickly responded for his team with a two of his own. On the Mustangs next possession, Zach Blankenship was sent to the line for a one-and-one opportunity and made both, giving his team the lead 44-43. The two teams continued to battle back and forth with the lead and with 3:26 left to play it was 47 all. But with 2:47 to go, the Mustangs ran a play that they had tried running early in the game but the shot went in and out then. In the fourth, Devin Pierson found nothing but the bottom of the net with a three pointer to put his team up 50-47.
Peebles came right back and cut the margin to just one point with 2:27 left. Josh Ahrmann was sent to the line with 2:05 in the fourth and was able to hit 1-of-2 from the line to put the Mustangs up by a basket, but Peebles tied the game with 1:42, at 51 a piece, hitting two free throws.
With one minutes to go in the game, Eric McLaughlin, who had went off the floor earlier with an small injury, hit a jumper at the top of the key to put the Mustangs back up 53-51. That was the last time the Mustangs had to take the lead, as they held Peebles scoreless over the next minute and score five more points themselves to take home a 57-51 victory and crowned kings of the SHAC.
“We knew coming down here that t was going to be a tough game and I thought, at times, [Peebles] ran their gameplan a little better than us,” said Lynchburg Head Coach Matt Carson after the game. “We just dug down and started to make a run there at the end of the third and just made plays. We made some defensive plays and got some key rebounds. I can’t say enough about these kids. They’re just grinders. They don’t quit and I’m extremely proud of them.
“So many guys stepped up tonight in this game. It’s hard to pick one guy out because at different times kids made plays and I’m just extremely proud of all of them.
“We get a few days off here at the end of the season and then we have Northwest at Waverly on Tuesday to start the tournament and we’re focused on that game right now and we’ll take it one game at a time. We know the task ahead of us and we’re hoping to make a good of a run as we can.”
The Mustangs finish 12-1 in the Southern Hills Athletic Conference and 19-2 overall.
LCHS – 14 12 14 17 – 57
PHS – 16 13 12 10 – 51
Lynchburg-Clay: Blankenship 3(1) 6/6 – 15; Pierson 4(1) 3/4 – 14; McLaughlin 3(1) – 9; Giordano 3 2/4 – 8; Inman 2 – 4; Mullins 2 0/2 – 4; Ahrmann 1 1/2 – 3. Totals: 18(3) 12/18 – 57.
Peebles: Gordley 7 0/1 – 14; Arey 2(1) 3/4 – 10; Parrett 2(1) 2/3 – 9; Schmitz 1(2) – 8; Kremin 2- 4; Ryan 1 1/2 – 3; Conley (1) – 3. Totals: 15(5) 6/10 – 51.
Reach Robert Stegbauer at 937-393-3456 ext. 1679 or on Twitter @RStegbauer.