Lady Mustangs move to the Elite 8; defeat Alexander in regional semifinals
LC to face Eastern Brown in regional finals, Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Logan H.S.
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 11:47 PM
LOGAN — The Lynchburg-Clay Lady Mustangs forced the Alexander Lady Spartans to play their style of basketball on Wednesday night, and their plan worked perfectly this time around. The Lady Mustangs used their speed and their drive to force turnovers and score points to advance to the Elite 8, winning 65-52.
Lynchburg-Clay freshman Zoe Fittro is pictured during Wednesday night's Division III Regional Semifinal game against Alexander. Fittro finished with three 3-pointers and totaled 13 points. (HCP Photo/Stephen Forsha)
Lynchburg-Clay at Alexander
LCHS 18 20 09 18 — 65
AHS 12 15 11 14 — 52
LYNCHBURG-CLAY (65) — Z.Fittro 2 (3) 0-1 13, L.Waits 0 (1) 0-1 3, P.Scott 5 (0) 7-7 17, H.Binkley 4 (3) 2-2 19, M.Binkley 5 (1) 0-2 13. TOTALS: 16 (8) 9-13 65.
ALEXANDER (52) — J.Mace 1 (0) 0-2 2, L.Richardson 3 (2) 2-2 14, R.Richardson 1 (5) 0-0 17, A.Mohler 2 (5) 0-0 19. TOTALS: 7 (12) 2-4 52.
In the Division III Regional Semifinal game at Logan High School, the Lady Mustangs (23-3) not only led after each quarter, but they avenged a late December loss to the same Lady Spartan team. In December, LC lost by nine points at AHS, though this time around the Lady Mustangs turned the tables, beginning by overcoming an early 6-2 deficit and eventually building an 18-12 lead at the conclusion of the first quarter.
The first quarter set the tone for what the Lady Mustangs brought for the remainder of the regional semifinal, as the 6-2 deficit turned into a 6-5 deficit following freshman Zoe Fittro sinking a 3-pointer at the 5:29 mark, then LC took the lead with a 3-pointer by senior McKayla Binkley and two points on a fast break from twin sister Hannah Binkley for a 10-6 advantage with 4:17 left in the first frame.
Alexander (21-4) came back with a 3-pointer by Rachel Richardson, but Fittro was there with her second 3-pointer of the quarter, pushing LC’s lead back to four points at the 2:51 mark of the first. Alexis Mohler of AHS sank a 3-pointer, but LC had an answer, this time scoring four points to end the first frame as Hannah Binkley scored a basket off the glass and drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer for an 18-12 advantage.
LC turned their six-point lead after the first quarter into an 11-point lead at halftime with a 20-15 second frame.
In the second, sophomore Peyton Scott totaled seven of the 20 points with two two-point baskets and three free throws, while McKayla Binkley added six points, Hannah Binkley totaled five points and Fittro had two points in the quarter.
Hannah Binkley led LC with 19 points (six rebounds, one steal), while she was just one of four LC players to score in double figures. Also in double figures was Scott with 17 points (five rebounds, five steals and three assists).
McKayla Binkley finished with a double-double by scoring 13 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. She also had four assists and three steals. Fittro also finished with 13 points, while adding four rebounds and two steals.
“This was an awesome game,” LC head coach Whitney Lewis said. “Our energy level was unmatched going in. We just put our footprint on the game, and that put Alexander in a lot of trouble. We kept getting the ball up the floor, applying good pressure defense. I think every one of our kids played just as hard as they possibly could, and a lot of good things happen when we do that.
“I think we were just on a mission. McKayla hit that game-winner for us and hit that shot to send us into overtime. I think with that, you get a lot of confidence from it and it keeps rolling. You kind of start realizing what you have the potential to do, and I think tonight we felt that, and we felt that in the gym. We had a lot of good, positive vibes and it kept going.”
LC took their first double-digit lead in the second following a steal and layup by McKayla Binkley at the 4:39 mark which put LC ahead, 27-16. Later came maybe the most remarkable play of the game when Scott forced a steal, then saved the ball with a behind-the-back scoop save, launching the ball in the air to McKayla Binkley. Binkley then took the ball on a fast break and scored two points for a 13-point lead.
That lead later got as high as 17 points when Scott made a layup with 37 seconds on the clock for a 38-21 advantage. AHS finished the second with two 3-pointers for a 38-27 LC lead with two frames in the books.
LC didn’t let up in the second half, with senior Lexi Waits knocking down a 3-pointer at the 5:35 mark for the first LC points of the third, and later at the 5:23 mark, Scott added two more points to the LC side of the scoreboard, increasing their lead to 43-29. Waits finished the game with three points, four rebounds and two steals.
Fittro continued her productive game with two more points with 5:03 left to put LC ahead by 14 points, and an alley-oop of sorts saw Scott lob the ball to McKayla Binkley for two points to give LC a 16-point lead at the 2:45 mark of the third.
Again, the Lady Spartans came on strong at the end of a quarter, this time scoring seven straight for an LC lead of 11 points at 47-38 at the end of three frames.
“They’re a good team, and we had to counter that,” Lewis said of the scoring runs. “Good teams make good runs, and they made a 7-0 run in the third quarter to end it. I think we did good job of making a stop, and we came back and hit a shot that kind of put the game for us.”
Then with the final eight minutes separating the Lady Mustangs getting to the Elite 8 for the first time since 2003, the “away team” didn’t disappoint, outscoring the Lady Spartans, 18-14, who got as close as seven points to the LC lead. Other than that, the quarter was controlled by the Lady Mustangs, especially at the beginning of the game when they sank a 3-pointer to open the fourth and final frame. That 3-pointer came from Hannah Binkley, and that was followed with two points by Scott off a steal and layup.
Fittro sank her third 3-pointer of the game with 4:11 left in the fourth, pushing the LC advantage back to 12 points. As the frame kept moving along, Alexander got to within seven points with 1:21 left in regulation following a 3-pointer from Mohler, but LC answered from the free throw line as Hannah Binkley and Scott went a combined 6-for-6 on the final 1:05 of the game.
Alexander was led in scoring by Alexis Mohler with 19 points (five 3-pointers), followed by Rachel Richardson with 17 points (five 3-pointers) and Leah Richardson with 14 points (two 3-pointers).
The regional finals will be on Saturday, March 11 at 1:30 p.m. at Logan High School in a battle between two Southern Hills Athletic Conference rivals in Eastern Brown and Lynchburg-Clay. EB won both meetings during the regular season against Lynchburg-Clay.
“It’s going to be so much fun. Eastern’s a great team. What’s really cool is we’re both from the same league, and we’re fighting for a chance to go to the state tournament,” Lewis said. “That just shows heads and tails how competitive we are in this part of the region, and it’ll be a fun one.”