A team relatively unfamiliar to the state tournament atmosphere will face one more than a little seasoned when the Lynchburg-Clay Mustangs (25-2) face off against Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph (22-5) in a Division III state semifinal game at 10:45 a.m. Thursday at Value City Arena in Columbus.
Lynchburg-Clay’s only other visit to the state tournament came in 1993 when the Mustangs lost a semifinal game to New Riegel.
Villa Angela (VASJ) defeated Lima Central Catholic, another of this year’s Division III final four participants, in last year’s state championship game, 63-50.
VASJ also won state basketball championships in 2013, 1995, 1994, 1992 and 1991. It was state runner-up in 2014, 2006, 1997, 1989 and 1979; and also played in the state tournament in 2007 and 2008.
In the other Division III semifinal game Thursday, Lima Central Catholic (26-1) will play St. Bernard Roger Bacon (21-7) at 2 p.m.
Lynchburg-Clay Athletic Director Mark Faust said Monday that the school was allotted 2,500 tickets for the game. He said the school was selling tickets to Lynchburg area residents from 5-8 p.m. Monday, and that the remainder of the tickets would go on sale at 8 a.m. Tuesday in the high school office. The tickets are $10 each.
Faust said if all those tickets are sold there still should be tickets available on Ticketmaster or at the game site, although he said they would be selling for $12 or $15.
“In all the years I’ve been there I have never, ever saw the place sold out,” Faust said.
The Division III championship game will be played at 10:45 a.m. Saturday.
In a Division I semifinal game, nearby Wilmington (27-1) will take on Lima Senior (28-0) at 5:15 p.m. Friday. The winner of that game will take on Westerville South (24-4) or Garfield Heights (23-4) for the state title at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
While Lynchburg-Clay has played one more tournament game than VASJ, the Mustangs’ path to the state tournament has been a little less tight.
Lynchburg-Clay has defeated McDermott Northwest 56-36, North Adams 70-51, Wheelersburg 64-48, Proctorville Fairland 73-62, Chesapeake 53-48 and Marion Pleasant 68-50.
VASJ has defeated Kirtland 86-55, Warrensville Heights 64-62, Beachwood 53-52, Newton Falls 58-28 and Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas 54-46.
Lynchburg-Clay has canceled school on Thursday.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.