It was a jammed packed house at Waverly High School on Saturday evening as the Lynchburg-Clay Mustnags faced off against a familiar Southern Hills Athletic Conference foe in North Adams in the sectional finals. The Mustangs held the lead a majority of the game but could never find the final nail in the coffin until the third quarter. From that point on, North Adams looked visibly done and the Mustangs went on to win 70-51.
The Mustangs started off in a little bit of a hole as the game started. North Adams connected on a free throw and made a three pointer in the first two minutes to take a 4-0 lead with 6:01 to go. Lynchburg finally got on the board with a basket from Joe Giordano at the 5:46 mark but North Adams connected with another three, one of 10 in the game for the team, to pull ahead 7-2 with 4:27 left in the first quarter. That’s when Lynchburg got themselves back into the ball game.
Lynchburg’s Christian Inman entered the game and soon after made a bucket underneath to make it 7-4. That was followed up on the next possession with a deep three pointer from Zach Blankenship, who then stole the ball on North Adam’s next possession and took it to the other end for a layup. He was fouled on the shot and finished off the three point play at the line to give Lynchburg its first lead of the game. North Adams, not being put away so easily, scored five points on their next two trips to pull ahead 12-10. That was the last lead the Green Devils saw as River Mullins was fouled at the 1:24 mark and made both free throws to tie the game at 12-12 and then stole the ball 12 seconds later, which lead to an easy fastbreak basket at the other end. Devin Pierson finished off scoring for the Mustangs in the first quarter with a two point basket and a deep three at the buzzer that found nothing but the bottom of the net to give Lynchburg the 19-12 edge at the end of one.
In the second quarter, the Mustangs added two points to their lead, outscoring the Green Devils 11-9 in the eight minutes of play and as they headed to the locker room, they head a nine-point, 30-21 lead.
The third quarter was what put the Mustangs ahead and left little doubt they would win the ball game. A total of 21 points were racked up by the Mustangs, 12 of them coming from behind the arc. The four threes were made by four different players; Devin Pierson, Eric McLaughlin, River Mullins, and Christian Inman. At the end of the third quarter, the Mustangs held a 51-36 lead with the Green Devils already looking defeated.
In the fourth quarter, the Mustangs held their lead, even adding to it, scoring 19 points to North Adams’s 15 and at the end of the game, the Mustangs were sectional champions with a final of 70-51.
“I have to give the guys credit tonight,” said Lynchburg-Clay Head Coach Matt Carson after the game. “We went over a lot of offensive sets all week in practice and I think 70-75% of the time we executed those well, but we brought it on the defensive end tonight. We knew coming in tonight that [North Adams’s] post play was their strength and I thought we did a really good job of defending that. Credit North Adams shooters. They knocked down some shots to start out with but we felt in the match up from the last time we met to this one tonight that we were going to challenge their perimeter players to beat us as opposed to their post plays.
“I thought we crashed the offensive boards a lot better tonight. We only had six offensive rebounds the first time they beat us so we stressed that all week. We attacked the paint and felt like if we did that, we could get to the free throw line and we did that. We also didn’t settle for three tonight like we did last time. We still made seven threes but I don’t think we settled for those. We went through little spurts where we did but then we got back to where we needed to be inside the paint.
“This was one of the most complete games we’ve had this season and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m just really proud of the guys.
“Our goal at the beginning of the year was to not get anything less than Athens. We know that the games get tougher as you go along so we’re going to prepare for whoever we have to face, do our best and hopefully be a good representation of this community going forward.”
The Lynchburg-Clay Mustangs will now travel to Athens to play in the Ohio University Convocation Center on Sunday, February 28 at 3:45 p.m.
LCHS – 19 11 21 19 – 70
NAHS – 12 9 15 15 – 51
Lynchburg-Clay: Pierson 7(2) 1/4 – 21; Mullins 3(1) 11/12 – 20; McLaughlin 1(2) 1/2 – 9; Giordano 4 0/1 – 8; Blankenship 1(1) 1/2 – 6; Inman 1(1) – 5; Scott 1/2 – 1. Totals: 17(7) 15/24 – 70.
North Adams: Knechly 1(4) – 14; T. Meade 3(2) 1/2 – 13; England (2) – 6; Shupert (2) – 6; Barnes 2 – 4; Gingerick 2 – 4; C. Meade 1 – 2; Dalton 1 – 2. Totals: 10(10) 1/2 – 51.
Reach Robert Stegbauer at 937-393-3456 ext. 1679 or on Twitter @RStegbauer.