The Lynchburg-Clay Mustangs started their season strong Friday night with a 60-45 win against the New Richmond Eagles at the Ohio Valley Hoops Classic at Southern State Community College.
The Mustangs struggled to stay in the lead in the first half, waiting to wake up until the last few seconds of the second quarter when they took the lead and kept it for the rest of the game.
Lynchburg got off to a good start during the first five minutes of gameplay thanks to some strong shooting from AJ Stroop and Joe Giordano. With 2:30 left on the clock in the first quarter, the Eagles decided they had enough and brought the score to 13-13 with a series of 2- and 3-point shots.
Both teams tied the score up to 15-15 with a minute left, and New Richmond came out of the quarter in the lead 18-15 after a 2-point shot and successful free throw.
The teams kept up the ties in the second quarter with a 25-25 scoreboard at three minutes, then 26-26 in the following 30 seconds.
Giordano kicked the score up to 28-26 with a 2-pointer at 25 seconds, bringing the first half to a close with the Mustangs holding onto a slim lead at 28-26.
Lynchburg kept their lead until the end of the game, but it was hardly an easy win.
Giordano flubbed his first dunk of the game with 2:20 left in the third quarter after a round of scores from both teams, but Michael Heindel was there to back him up with a quick 2-point rebound, bringing the score to 38-31.
Giordano made up for it in the remaining two minutes of gameplay with a quick 2-point shot and a layup, finishing off the third quarter 42-32 with the Mustangs in the lead.
North Adams started the fourth quarter off with two 2-pointers in the first minute, but it wasn’t enough to bridle the Mustang’s momentum.
Giordano kept up the heat with a successful slam dunk with 3:15 left on the clock, and Stroop, Heindel and Eric McLoughlin carried the Mustangs to a 60-45 win by the time the clock ran out.
Giordano led the Mustangs with 28 points.
“I thought there were blips where we showed what we could be going forward,” said coach Matt Carson. “We have to stay on our feet a little more and stop trying to block shots all the time. We shared the basketball, I thought, at times, but sometimes we tried to get too fancy with it instead of going for the fundamental play. But the kids played hard — I thought they were really gutsy and really gritty getting things done.”
The Mustangs will challenge Peebles at Lynchburg-Clay next Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Lynchburg-Clay: 15 13 14 18
McLaughlin: 5(1)-13, Heindel: 2-2-2-6, Giordano: 11(1)-6-3-28, Lampkin: (1)-3, Stroop: 5-10.
New Richmond: 18 8 6 13
Flamm: 2(1)-3-1-8, Lang: 2(1)8-6-13, Gundler: 3-6, cromwell: 3-6, Horgan: 1(1)-5, Ernst: (1)-4-2-5.
David Wright is the sports editor for The Times-Gazette. He can be reached at 937-402-2570.