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Lady Mustangs gain 2nd consecutive sectional championship

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Lynchburg-Clay's Allie Waits prepares to rebound the ball Saturday against Wheelersburg. (HCP Photos/Stephen Forsha)
Stephen Forsha, The Highland County Press

CHILLICOTHE — It was simple for the Lynchburg-Clay Lady Mustangs Saturday night, and that was win and advance, which they accomplished against Wheelersburg, 56-45 in their Division III SE District Sectional Final game at Chillicothe High School. 

“We knew coming in Wheelersburg wasn’t an 18-seed team,” Lynchburg-Clay head coach Whitney Lewis said. “We knew was going to be a battle, going to be a dogfight and we had to come in ready to play. I'm just proud of our kids and how they responded to just kind of going back and forth. It was a battle the whole game, and you didn't know who was going to kind of take control until the end there in the fourth quarter. 

“You get that lull between end of the season to beginning of the tournaments, and you saw that a little bit in the first half, or that first quarter. Then I think we kind of turned it around and responded, and from then on, we just played basketball like we could, and it was just a battle between two really good basketball teams.”

Saturday night for LCHS saw the Lady Mustangs lead 13-10 after the first quarter, and it was Macy Etienne sinking the first shot of the game with a 3-pointer, finishing the game with 11 points, as she totaled two two-point baskets, two 3-pointers and she made a free throw.  

After Wheelersburg took the lead with consecutive baskets by Peyton May, it was a solid jumper by Jade Massey that put LCHS ahead at 5-4 early on. 

Massey led all scorers with 21 points, as she made five two-point baskets, one 3-pointer, and she finished 8-of-9 from the free-throw line. 

LCHS eventually trailed by five points following six straight points by Wheelersburg’s Makenzie Mullins, May and Jaylin Prather, making the score 10-5 in favor of the Lady Pirates, 

Lynchburg-Clay wasn’t going to be led out to the plank this early in the sectional finals, but rather they ended the first quarter with a “heave ho” of their own, putting together a strong effort to end the first against the Lady Pirates, going on an 8-0 run to end the first for a 13-10 lead. 

The quarter ended on that 8-0 run starting with a layup by Madison McMullen, followed by two points on a play in the paint by Addison West, as she ended the game with 10 points. Next was a put-back basket by McMullen, and the quarter ended with Etienne sinking a basket. 

LCHS held a three-point lead at halftime at 26-23, with each team scoring 13 points in the quarter. 

For Wheelersburg, their second quarter-scoring consisted of six points by Prather, four points by Emma Smith, two points by May and one point from Mullins. 

Lynchburg-Clay’s second quarter saw them keep the lead the entire eight minutes, leading by as many as six points and as little as one point. 

The Lady Mustangs' second-quarter scoring included four points from West (including a 3-pointer) and a 3-pointer by Etienne, while Massey, Allie Waits, Joslyn Rockey and McMullen each scored two points. 

“In the first half, I thought [Wheelersburg] really crashed the boards and got some second opportunities, some easy layups,” Lewis said. “They were getting out on us in transition, and we gave up some easy buckets there. We talked about that. Wheelersburg was still able to do that some, but I think we took care of the boards a lot better in that second half defensively. They're still going to run and get some easy buckets, but I thought we did a better job of just kind of making sure we knew what was going on with that, getting back and contesting those looks. 

“[WHS] played great defense. We had a hard time just getting any easy baskets. Anything that we had was hard earned. We ran some of our plays and did a good job of executing, so I was happy with our kids for doing that.”

The third frame saw the Lady Mustangs score 14 more points, while holding WHS to nine points in the final quarter. Wheelersburg tied the score at the start of the third with a 3-pointer from Mullins, but LCHS quickly answered with a put-back basket by McMullen, a three-point play from Etienne and a 3-pointer from Massey with 4:40 on the clock for a 34-26 LCHS lead.

WHS answered with four consecutive points, only to see Massey offset some of those points with a basket at the 2:40 mark of the third for a 36-30 advantage. 

After the Lady Pirates scored another basket, Massey made two free throws and West connected with a jumper for a 40-32 score with 40 seconds left on the scoreboard. 

LCHS scored 16 points in the fourth, and WHS added 13 to their final total, keeping LCHS in the lead for their win. 

Four LCHS players reached the scoreboard in the fourth, with Massey scoring 10 points, as she made three shots from the field and was 4-of-5 from the free-throw line. 

“[Massey] stepped up big on the free-throw line to kind of finish and close that game out,” Lewis said. “She's got a great first step, is able to get to the basket and attack the rim and keep doing that, and she was able to get herself to the free-throw line and get some easy buckets that way.”

West, Waits and McMullen each added two points in the final frame. 

“Allie came off the bench and made some great defensive plays and had some timely rebounds for us,” Lewis said. She was kind of looking for her shot a little bit more. We’ve got three seniors, three guards, that are averaging double digits, and a lot of the defensive attention is going to them, so some of our other players are able to kind of step up. In tournaments, that's going to be the difference in winning a game.  

“Madison McMullen came out and had eight points for us too, so when different people can score, that's always going to be a plus for us.  She played really well tonight, and again, had some timely rebounds and timely baskets. Wheelersburg would kind of be making a run, and I think she had a couple baskets that put us back where we were comfortable.”

Smith, Prather and Ava Estes all scored points for WHS in the final quarter. 

Wheelersburg was led in scoring by Smith and Prather with 13 points each, followed by May scoring 10 points. Mullins totaled six points, and Estes scored three. 

Other final total games for LCHS were McMullen (eight), Waits (four) and Rockey (two). 

As a team, LCHS went 14-of-22 from the free-throw line. 

Next for No. 7 seeded LCHS is a Div. III SE District Semifinal game at the Waverly Downtown Gym on Thursday, Feb. 22 against No. 6 seeded Minford at 8 p.m. 

Lewis spoke about returning to the district round for a second consecutive season. 

“It's kind of just a tribute to [the seniors] and how they've contributed to our program and just what they do for us to go back to back, cutting down the nets,” Lewis said. “This is the first time this group will have an opportunity to play at the Waverly gym. They haven't experienced that yet, so I'm excited to to be able to to go and experience that with them because it's a magical place. It's just a different feel, so we're looking forward to that, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the seniors are going to respond to that.”

    10 13 09 13 — 45
LCHS    13 13 14 16 — 56

LYNCHBURG-CLAY (56) — M.Etienne 2 (2) 1-3 11, A.Waits 1 (0) 2-2 4, A.West 2 (1) 3-6 10, J.Massey 5 (1) 8-9 21, J.Rockey 1 (0) 0-0 2, M.McMullen 4 (0) 0-2 8. TOTALS: 15 (4) 14-22 56. 

WHEELERSBURG (45) — M.Vastine 0 (0) 0-2 0, E.Smith 3 (0) 7-11 13, M.Mullens 1 (1) 1-2 6, J.Prather 4 (0) 5-6 13, A.Estep 0 (1) 0-0 3, P.May 5 (0) 0-0 10. TOTALS: 13 (2) 13-21 45. 

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