Lynchburg-Clay senior Eric McLaughlin dunks the basketball against Paint Valley in the fourth quarter, as he scored a game-high 26 points Friday night. (HCP Photo/Stephen Forsha)
Lynchburg-Clay senior Eric McLaughlin dunks the basketball against Paint Valley in the fourth quarter, as he scored a game-high 26 points Friday night. (HCP Photo/Stephen Forsha)
DODSONVILLE — For the entire 32 minutes of basketball played on Friday — on Hall of Fame night — the Lynchburg-Clay Mustangs never trailed the visiting Paint Valley Bearcats and had four players finish in double-figure scoring for a 68-55 win at LCHS.

Before the start of the game, Lynchburg-Clay honored two of their greats with former baseball coach Aric Fiscus and former baseball player Joe Wells being inducted into the Lynchburg-Clay Athletic Hall of Fame.

As for the game itself, from the opening tip the Mustangs were the ones who controlled the pace and set the tempo with them jumping out to an 8-0 advantage with the first six points from Eric McLaughlin as he had a 3-pointer and a three-point play within the first few minutes of the game. Those points were followed with a basket from Raymond Conner at the 4:12 mark.

McLaughlin led all scorers with 26 points for the game. He finished with five two-point baskets, five 3-pointers and was 1-of-1 from the free-throw line.

“Eric is a great leader for us, and I thought he just had an overall great game,” LC head coach Matt Carson said. “We ask him to do a lot, and sometimes we ask him to do too much at times, but he’s been an example to follow this year.”

Conner followed with a double-double, as the sophomore totaled 14 points and 11 rebounds in the game.

“Defensively, I thought we did a good job and offensively we had four players in double digits. We’ve only had that a couple times this season, but we did a good job of sharing the basketball tonight,” Carson said. “This was a tough Paint Valley team and a good win for us. They have some good athletes on their roster.

“Ray does whatever is asked of him. He goes in there and gets the boards and he has improved every game since the preseason … he’s stepped up his game. He’s a nice complement underneath the post.”

The first frame continued with the Bearcats having their first points go through the hoop off a layup by Dylan Swingle at the 3:19 mark, followed by a three-point play by Cruz McFadden. Noble Walker answered the PV points with a 3-pointer for the Mustangs, only to see a jumper by Paint Valley’s Bryce Newland leave the score at 11-7 late in the first frame.

Carson spoke about his team having to defende Swingle, who is a 6-11 Division I signee to Duquesne.

“Our guys did a great job sticking to the game plan,” Carson said. “Dylan has had a great career and will continue to have a great career. He’s a tough player to defend. Whatever defense we were in, we just wanted to keep guys around him. I’ve watched film, and I thought guys pressured him too much and he would be able to post up and score.

“Our goal was to just keep guys around him, and if they made shots, they made shots, which they did at the end. We wanted to force him into tough shots, and give him credit, he made some tough shots on us, but for the most part our defense held true.”

Walker — who totaled 10 points in the win — had more big shots in his arsenal as the senior swished another 3-pointer for LCHS (3-2, 5-2), but that was answered 10 seconds later with a 3-pointer from Newland. LC ended the scoring in the first frame for their 16-10 advantage with a jumper from Conner, off a pass from Damin Pierson for the assist with 15 seconds on the clock. Pierson finished with 15 points for the Mustangs.

The second frame saw the Mustangs increase their lead from six points to 11 after eight minutes of game action with LC outscoring the Bearcats, 20-15 for a halftime lead of 36-25.

LC had three players score points in the frame with Conner adding eight points to the lead of LC off four two-point baskets, while McLaughlin also scored eight points in the quarter with two 3-pointers and a two-point field goal. Also scoring points in the quarter was Pierson with four points. For the game, the Mustangs made 11 3-pointers.

Paint Valley had a 3-pointer from P.J. McAllister and points from Swingle, Newland and Caden Grubb in the second.

At the start of the third, LC opened with a basket from Pierson, and following two points for the Bearcats by Newland, McLaughlin sank a jumper and Walker scored two points for a 42-27 advantage with less the two minutes into the third frame (6:12), forcing the Bearcats to call a timeout.

Following the timeout, PV went on an 11-2 run from the 5:51 mark to the 2:55 mark of the third, resulting in PV trailing by 15 points to a 44-39 score with points from Swingle, Grubb, Newland and McAllister, who made a 3-pointer for the aforementioned five-point deficit.

The Mustangs then took a deep breath and countered with a 3-pointer by Pierson 54 seconds later, as that began a quick 8-2 run to end the third with not only Pierson’s 3-pointer, but a put-back basket by Conner and another 3-pointer from Pierson for a 52-41 score after three frames.

Lynchburg-Clay lived beyond the arc in the non-conference game once again, as they not only had a 3-pointer from McLaughlin, but they scored the first points of the quarter all four frames, with the trey by McLaughlin leading to a 55-41 advantage. PV had 3-pointers from McAllister and Newland in the third, with more scoring from Swingle and Grubb.

LC never let the game get too far out of hand for the remainder of the fourth frame as McLaughlin finished with another 3-pointer and two more two-point baskets in the fourth, while Pierson and Quintin Smith also connected with 3-pointers for what was a 16-point quarter.

PV scored 14 points in the fourth with McFadden, Swingle and Grubb contributing to the scoring.

Swingle and Newland led Paint Valley with 16 points each, and Grubb was also in double-figure scoring with 10 points. McFadden finished with seven points, and McAllister had six points to complete the PV scoring.

In all, there were eight fouls called on LC in the game and seven on PV, as LC was 1-of-1 from the free-throw line and PV went 5-of-7.

“This was a good win. and it was against a quality team. This was a good win for us going into the new year,” Carson said. “We also congratulate Joe Wells and Aric Fiscus for their accomplishment of entering the Lynchburg-Clay Athletic Hall of Fame. Congratulations to both of them.”

In the JV game, the Mustangs won by a 31-29 score to improve to 4-2 on the year. Tyler Stevens led the way with 10 points, followed by Nick Bennington with seven points and Alex Barber with six points. Rounding out the LC scoring were David Giordano and PJ Fiscus with four points each.