The Lynchburg-Clay boys basketball team started the season in the best way possible; a huge win in overtime.
The Mustangs opened up their season at home against South Central Ohio League team Miami Trace and after four quarters and an extra four minutes for overtime, walked into the locker room with 79-70 win under their belts.
After the first quarter, Miami Trace had edged out the Mustangs by three points as it was 17-14. Both teams looked to be getting their feet under them and it was back and forth the entire eight minutes of the quarter.
In the second quarter, Lynchburg seemed to find themselves a bit and went ahead 35-34 at the half.
At the start of the third quarter, the back-and-forth continued as the Panthers and the Mustangs traded basket for basket for the first half of the quarter. Lynchburg managed to pull just a bit further ahead, and by four instead of two thanks to a clutch put back by Eric McLaughlin with just 1.5 seconds left on the clock. The Mustangs had a 51-47 lead going into the final frame.
McLaughlin picked up where he left off in the third, scoring the five five points of the quarter with a three pointer just 14 seconds in, and two pointer one minute later. Miami Trace was finally able to answer with a two of their own with 6:21 left. The two teams traded baskets again and at 4:49 left in the ball game, the score was 60-52 in favor of the Mustangs.
At this point in the game, the Panthers decided to make a run of their own. Trace popped off four straight baskets, two of them from behind the arc, and with 1:54 left in the game, Trace had taken back the lead 62-60.
Lynchburg was fouled on their next two possessions but were only able to make one of the four attempts and the score was 62-61 with 1:25 left.
Neither team in the final minute would nudge to the other, and their was hard-nosed defense on both sides of the floor. As timed ticked down, Joe Giordano took a three pointer with just around ten seconds left to try and get his team the lead. He missed the shot but was able to get his own rebound and took the ball right back up to the basket. In a controversial call, Giordano was called for a charge, and Miami Trace was sent to the line to shoot free throws. The Panthers were able to to make both of the free shots and with just 9.1 seconds left on the clock, Miami Trace had a 64-61 lead.
The Mustangs took the ball out of bounds and Giordano took the ball up the floor and went to drive. He decided against it but while dribbling backwards, lost his footing and fell backwards. Coach Matt Carson was able to get a timeout called before a turnover happened, but the Mustangs were down to just two seconds remaining.
The ball was inbounded after the timeout and found its way into the hands of River Mullins. Mullins had two Miami Trace players in his face and with no where to pass and no time to do so anyways, heaved up what could already be the shot of the year from eight feet behind the three point line. The ball sailed through the air, hit perfectly in the middle of the square of the backboard and banked in for a three-pointer, tying the game at 64-64 as time expired, taking the Lynchburg Mustangs into an extra four minutes in their season opener.
River Mullins picked up right where he left off at the end of regulation, draining a three pointer just seconds into the overtime period and it was mostly Mustangs in the final frame as they outscored the Panthers 15-6 in the final four minutes of play to win their season opener with a final of 79-70.
“We got a little unraveled there in the third quarter,” said Mustangs head coach Matt Carson after the big win. “I think we were up 60-55 and next thing you know, were down by three or four. We had a little mismanagement there towards the end in certain situations and we’ll definitely correct that.
“The thing we talked about coming into this game with [Miami Trace], was that we had to be more physical than them. I feel like for most of the game we were able to do that.”
Coach Carson also had a little something to say about River Mullins’s shot at the end of regulation and was just as surprised as everyone else in the gymnasium. He also used that to talk about how everyone was doing their thing to ship into the win.
“Wow,” said Carson. “River’s shot. I mean what else do you say. Then he came back out in overtime and hit a three to start us off. And that’s the thing. It was different guys at different times tonight. There are little plays that are huge in basketball games. We had a jump ball at the end of the second quarter. Josh Goble came in off the bench for us and got us a key jump ball that got us an extra possession and I think we were able to go down to the other end and get a free throw. If that doesn’t happen, we’re not down just three at the end of the game. It’s just little things like that.
“Let’s make no mistake, Miami Trace is a really good basketball team that is very athletic. We knew that coming in. We just have to make sure, going forward, that we don’t make as many forced errors. I was talking to the Miami Trace coach before the game and we both said we thought there would probably be more turnovers in the game than we would like seeing it was the first game. And the thing about our turnovers, it wasn’t that we had huge amount of them, they just came at inopportune times in the game.
“I just can’t say enough about these kids’ heart. They bought into the fact that it is a team game and there’s going to be different people stepping up doing different things and it was tonight. I’m just extremely proud of them.”
The Mustangs will go for their second win next Friday night Decemeber 4 when they hit the road and travel to Manchester, which will open of league play for them in the Southern Hills Athletic Conference. That game will start at 7:30 p.m.
LCHS – 14 21 16 13 15 – 79
MTHS – 17 17 13 17 6 – 70
Lynchburg-Clay: McLaughlin 4(4) 2/2 – 22; Pierson 3(2) 4/4 – 16; Blankenship 2(1) 8/10 – 15; Mullins 1(2) 3/4 – 11; Arhmann 4 – 8; Giordano 2 – 4; Inman (1) – 3. Totals: 16(10) 17/20 – 79
Miami Trace: T. Pettiford 9(1) 3/4 – 24; D. Pettiford 3(1) 5/6 – 14; Pittser 1(2) 2/2 – 10; Caro 5 0/2 – 10; Carter 1(1) – 5; Creamer 1 1/2 – 3; Leach 1 – 2; Batson 2/2 – 2. Totals: 21(5) 13/18 – 70.
Reach Robert Stegbauer at 937-393-3456 ext. 1679 or on Twitter @RStegbauer.