Lynchburg-Clay’s varsity Mustangs boys basketball team traveled to Athens on Saturday to take on the Wheelersburg Pirates in the Division IV District Semi-Final game at the Convocation Center on the campus of Ohio University. The Mustangs fought hard throughout and held a 25-24 lead at halftime, but in the end came up short in a 66-51 loss.
Wheelersburg opened the first quarter with a 7-0 run with Tanner Holden leading the charge on both ends of the floor as he scored four points and forced several turnovers during the run.
Lynchburg-Clay’s Ray Conner finally found the bottom of the net at the 4:24 mark of the period when he laid they ball in and hit a free throw after being fouled on the play.
Over the final four and a half minutes the teams were even as they scored six points apiece to end the first quarter with the Pirates leading 13-9.
Lynchburg-Clay stormed back in the second quarter with a 9-3 run to begin the period and took their first lead of the game, 18-16, on a deep three by Damin Pierson with 2:16 to play in the first half.
Holden answered for Wheelersburg boys with a triple of his own with 1:12 left in the period to vault the Pirates back into the lead at 19-18.
Eric McLaughlin nailed a three and was fouled to earn a trip to the line and converted the four-point play to give the Mustangs a 22-19 lead. Following a basket by the Pirates, Lynchburg’s Noble Walker hit yet another triple for the Mustangs to put his team up 25-21 with 16 seconds to play in the first half.
The final play before the half saw Wheelersburg’s J.J. Truitt hit three to trim the Mustang lead to one at 25-24 as both teams headed to the locker room.
Wheelersburg opened the second half with a 9-0 run to take a 33-25 lead with 6:04 remaining in the period. Lynchburg-Clay was again kick started by Conner as he recorded the first basket of the third quarter for the Mustangs. However, the Pirates were still on a roll as they took a double-digit lead, 40-30, with just over three minutes to play in the third period.
The Mustangs outscored the Pirates 8-7 over the final three minutes and trailed by nine, 47-38 entering the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter the Mustangs opened with an inspired effort that saw them climb to within four points, 49-45, over the first four minutes of the period. From that moment on the Pirates finished of the game with a 17-6 run to provide the final 66-51 score.
Lynchburg-Clay Senior McLaughlin led all scorers on the night with 19 points, Pierson chipped in double figures for the Mustangs with 10 points on the night.
McLaughlin, along with fellow seniors Walker, Austin Hilt, Blake Croy, Quintin Smith and Roger Saylor all played their final game for the Mustangs on Saturday night. Lynchburg-Clay head coach Matt Carson talked about them following the game.
“We are going to miss these six seniors, they’re just great role models for our community, great leaders in our basketball program and I have just had a very exciting year with them. It has been fun, they are a great example of what can happen if you work hard and believe,” said Carson.
Wheelersburg: Salyers 1(2)-1/2-9; Mullins 2(1)-2/2-9; Dyer 1-2; Lowery 4(1)-1/2-12; Truitt 3(1)8/8-17; Holden 4(1)-6/6-17
Lynchburg-Clay: Walker (2)-6; Pierson (3)-1/2-10; Young 1-1/2-3; McLaughlin 5(2)-3/5-19; Hilt 1(1)-1/2-6; Conner 3-1/3-7
Reach Ryan Applegate at 937-402-2572, or on Twitter @RCApplegate89.