Fans attending the matchup between the visiting Lynchburg-Clay Mustangs and host Eastern Warriors got their money’s worth on Tuesday evening, as they saw a hard fought, intense matchup that looked as if it would go in favor of the Warriors early on.
After one quarter of play, with a stifling defensive scheme the Warriors held the lead over the Mustangs at 14-7. The second quarter saw a more balanced attack from both sides, and the Warriors took a 25-20 lead into intermission.
The third quarter saw the Warriors hit four of their six three pointers of the evening, including one right out of the gate to start the third. Leading by as many as 11 at one point, the hosts took a 43-34 advantage into the fourth and final frame.
In the fourth quarter, the Warriors were able to score 15 points, with 11 of those 15 coming from the charity stripe and they were able to net two field goals. The Mustangs surged for a 25 point fourth quarter, thanks in part to a stingy man to man defense and clutch scoring from junior Damin Pierson, who scored 13 of his 16 points in the fourth. The Mustangs also made eight of ten free-throws in the quarter to go along with their eight field goals in the period.
With 16 seconds to go, Eastern had the ball at the top of the key and tied at 56 all. Marcus Hamilton made a great move to the basket and put the Warriors up 58-56 with 3.8 second left on the clock. The Mustangs quickly used their last timeout to set up a play. The ball was inbounded and found its way into the hands of Eric McLaughlin, who drove to the right and took a three point shot at the buzzer that banked in as time expired, giving the Mustangs the victory 59-58.
“This was a classic Eastern/Lynchburg-Clay matchup tonight, “said LC head coach Matt Carson. “That shot that Eric hit was huge and he’s made plays like that his whole career. Damin also had a lot of key drives to the basket in the fourth that got us back in the game. Lots of guys did little things on the defensive end as well; the bench was engaged and we were energetic throughout the game. This was another team win and I’m proud of our guys for gutting it out; we didn’t play our best at times, but we were resilient and fought to the end. Credit Eastern, they are very well coached, played hard and gave us their best. They will only get better as the year goes on.”
McLaughlin led the Mustangs with 17 points on the night and all scorers for the game. Pierson chipped in 16 points, followed by Raymond Conner’s 15. Austin Hilt added seven points, while Blake Croy and Chris Young each chipped in two.
For the Warriors, Hunter Ruckel had 16 points on the evening, followed by Marcus Hamilton’s 15. Titus Burns added 11 points, while Gage Boone chipped in eight. Colton Vaughn netted six points, while Dare Minton scored two.
The win improves the Mustangs to a record of 3-2 (2-2). Eastern falls to 2-4 (1-3). Lynchburg-Clay will be back in action Friday as they travel to North Adams to take on the Green Devils in SHAC action with freshmen play starting at 5:00 PM. Eastern will host Felicity on Friday evening in a non-conference game.
LC 7 13 14 25 – 59
EB 14 11 18 15 – 58
LC – McLaughlin – 4 (2) 3-3 17; Pierson 5 6-7 16; Conner 7 1-2 15; Hilt 2 (1) 0-1 7; Croy 1 2; Young 1 2 – Totals 20 (3) 10-13 59.
EB – Ruckel 2 (3) 3-4 16; Hamilton 2 (2) 5-7 15; Burns 2 (1) 4-4 11; Boone 2 2-3 8; Vaughn 2 2-2 6; Minton 1 2 – Totals 12 (6) 16-20 58.
Also on the evening, fans were treated to two other tightly contested games. In JV action, the Mustangs came out on top 37-36 to improve their record to 3-1 on the year. Tyler Stevens led the Mustangs with 14 points on the evening. Alex Barber hit a go ahead three with less than 10 seconds remaining in the game in what would eventually be the game winner. Barber scored 11 points on the evening. As time expired, Eastern had one last look on an inbounds play
underneath their own basket, but it fell short. Gavin Stroop added seven points, while David Giordano added three. Triston West paced the way with two points. For Eastern, Ian Wiles led the way with 13 points.
In Freshmen action, LC was also victorious in overtime by a score of 37-36. The Mustangs were led in scoring by Chase Smaltz with 13 points. Connor Tyree scored eight, while Hunter Balon chipped in seven. Kris Johnson added six points, while Brady Minton chipped in three. Ryan Boone led the Warriors and all scorers on the evening with 15 points. Ethan Daniels chipped in 11.
Matt Carson is the boys varsity basketball coach at Lynchburg-Clay High School.