The Lynchburg-Clay Lady Mustangs basketball team came into Wednesday night’s regional semi-finals game the number two team in the state with a 24-1 record and the number one seed in their bracket. Their opponent, non-ranked West Lafayette Ridgewood came in as the number three seeded team in their bracket. Ridgewood had already knocked off the number three state ranked team in Sugarcreek Garaway in their previous game 57-41. What happened Wednesday night was when an unstoppable force in Lynchburg met an immovable object in Ridgewood. The final result was the end of Lynchburg’s season with a 74-54 loss.
As the game started, the Ridgewood Generals threw the first punch and threw it hard with a three pointer just 30 seconds into the quarter. The Generals were able to mount a 10-4 lead before the Lady Mustangs finally got some steam and came back down only two points at the end of the quarter with a score of 15-13.
In the second quarter, it seemed as if Lynchburg still wasn’t firing on all cylinders and were outscored 20-11 in the second, taking the game to halftime with a score of 35-24 in favor of the Generals.
After the half, the Lady Mustangs that had only lost one game all year emerged. McKayla Binkley, who led Lynchburg with 20 points, hit two three pointers in the eight minutes and total half her points in that frame as well. Towards the end of the third frame, the Lady Mustangs had rushed back to within one point of their opponent with a score of 41-40. That was when the wheels fell off. Ridgewood was able to close the quarter on a 6-0 run to go into the final quarter up 56-42.
In the fourth and final quarter, the Lady Mustangs slipped back into the rut they had been in in the first half, while the Generals at one point went on a 12-2 run. They ended up outscoring the Lady Mustangs 18-12 in the quarter to bring the game to its final score of 74-54.
“We just got outplayed tonight,” said Lynchburg-Clay Head Coach Whitney Lewis after the game. “Our shots weren’t falling and everything was falling for [Ridgewood], and unfortunately, when it’s your last game on the line, those mistakes hurt you. I thought we came back there in that third quarter. We made a run and I really thought we were going to pull ahead getting to within one. They made a crucial basket, I think it was a three, and it just messed up that run a little bit. Ridgewood is a really good team and their best players really hurt us tonight.
“The hardest part of all this is going into the locker room and telling your seniors that they don’t get to come back. When you only lose two games in a season, it’s hard to get upset with anybody. Unfortunately, that second loss came at a pivotal time. I told the girls that our season isn’t defined by one game and right now you can’t think that. We only lost two games and were one of the last 16 teams in the state and they have a lot to be proud of.
“We have six seniors. (Marissa Mitchell, Emily Roush, Ali Little, Vanessa Thiel, Madison Wills, and Bailey Leininger). They’re not going to be coming back and that’s the hardest part. Not because of their stats. Not because of their contributions on the floor. But just having them in the program wearing a uniform representing us and our school and our community and that’s tough to say goodbye to.”
RHS – 15 20 21 18 – 74
LCHS – 13 11 18 12 – 54
Ridgewood: Tingle 3(4) 7/8 – 25; Finton 9(1) 3/4 – 24; McDorman 2(1) 3/7 – 10; Brown 2(1) – 7; Haynes 3 – 6; Buchanan 1 – 2. Totals: 20(7) 13/19 – 74
Lynchburg-Clay: M Binkley 5(2) 4/7 – 20; Scott 5 2/2 – 12; Little 5 – 10; H. Binkley 3 2/2 – 8; Waits 1 1/2 – 3; Thiel 1/2 – 1. Totals: 19(2) 10/15 – 54.
Reach Robert Stegbauer at 937-393-3456 ext. 1679 or on Twitter @RStegbauer.