Two teams will meet on the basketball court in the Convocation Center on Saturday night who have taken two different routes to a Division III regional championship. One of those teams is a local team in Lynchburg-Clay High School. The Mustangs made it out of the regular season almost unscathed with a record of 19-2. They played in three overtime games, one of them taking four extra periods to decided, and won all of them.
As Lynchburg came into the tournament, they did so as a no. 2 seed in their bracket. Along the way, they took out another no. 2 seed and two games ago, knocked off the no. 1 seeded Fairland 73-62. Their closest game was their latest one, which was also their fourth overtime game of the year, when they fought and clawed for victory over Chesapeake 53-48.
On the other side of the court will be Marion Pleasant, who came into the tournament much differently. The Spartans ended the year just making it to a .500 record at 11-11 and were seeded a no. 6. Along the way, they have knocked off two number one seeds including the most recent Sugarcreek Garaway 77-63.
The Lynchburg Mustangs are led by Devin Pierson, a 6’ senior guard who averages 19.3 points a game, dishing out 3.6 assists, and shooting 50% from the floor. Eric McLaughlin, a 6’4” sophomore forward nets 11.9 points a game, 5.3 rebounds and is shooting 34% from behind the arc. Joe Giordano, dubbed “Jumping Joe’ by the Convocation Center announcer, is a 6’3” junior forward who averages 11.1 a game and 4.6 rebounds. Joe scored 20 points in an earlier tournament games this year against Wheelersburg, 18 of them in the second half. His and McLaughlin’s 13 second half points lifted the Mustangs over Wheelersburg for a chance at the district championship. River Mullins, a 6’2” junior guard is a 40% three point shooter averaging 8.2 points and 4.2 rebound while dishing out 2.1 assists. Zach Blankenship is a 6’ senior and runs the offense as the Mustangs’ point guard. He averages 6.3 points, 3.6 assists and 4.5 rebounds.
The Marion Star reports that the Spartans are led by 6’4” senior Nico Sansotta who averages 17.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.4 steals while shooting 47 percent from the floor. Junior 6’3” wing Joe Craycraft averages 11.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.5 assists and shoots 38 percent from the arc. Hayden Craycraft, a 6’ junior guard, puts up 10.2 points with 3.4 rebounds and 1.2 steals while shooting 50 percent on 2-pointers and 39 percent on threes. Junior 6’4” center Ryan Wood averages 6.9 points and 4.2 rebounds, while shooting 54 percent.
The team who wins on Saturday will be in the Final Four and will head to Columbus to play at The Ohio State University at the Schottenstein Center at 10:45 a.m on Thursday, March 17.