There are some solid match-ups on the slate for Friday night basketball in Highland County and the surrounding area, but before we dive into that, there is a lot to look back on from Thursday night. The Lynchburg-Clay Lady Mustangs earned their 13th straight win of the season, moving to not only 13-0 overall, but 9-0 in the Southern Hills Athletic Conference, as they are tied with the Eastern Brown Lady Warriors in Division I of the SHAC, who are 8-0 in the conference. The two teams are set to face each other for the first time Saturday.



More on that Saturday matchup later, but congratulations are in order for McClain wrestling head coach Shane Paul, who gained his 100th match win as a head coach. On a personal note, I’m happy for Coach Paul as he is one of the easiest coaches to work with, no matter the season. He always responds to an email or text, he promotes his wrestlers greatly with information sent to the area media after EVERY match — win or lose — and he does so while his team is usually on the road, with just two or three home matches per season.

Most recently, I received an email from him sending results at midnight, promoting the work of his kids as they had a match in Jackson Thursday night. Coach Paul is one of the good ones, and I tip my cap to him on his career milestone in coaching. Congratulations, Shane!

Paul has done an excellent job as a coach with not only his teams gaining wins, but he’s a big reason the program kept going as strongly as it has. If any coach in Highland County is deserving of gaining a high coaching honor such as the 100-win milestone, that is Shane Paul.


• Many more thanks are deserved
As this basketball season continues, a big thank-you also goes out to the coaches of Highland County basketball, as they are also great at sending results and scorebooks after each game. I’ve been lucky enough to have results for almost every basketball game this season involving teams from Highland County and again, no matter the time, if I send an email or text, they get back with me fairly quickly. Without their help, the coverage we try to provide at the HCP wouldn’t be what it is, and I thank them.


• SHAC Girls Basketball Standings coming down to Lynchburg-Clay and Eastern Brown
From the looks of things, Division I of the SHAC in girls basketball is coming down to two teams in the Lynchburg-Clay Lady Mustangs and Eastern Brown Lady Warriors, who are both undefeated in conference play with four conference games left for LC and five conference games left on the schedule for Eastern. Eastern and LCHS still have two games against each other, with the first of the two meetings scheduled for this Saturday night when LC travels to Eastern.

The Lady Warriors have had the upper hand the past couple years in this SHAC rivalry, but both teams in those games have played at a very high level. Even more than that, each time these two teams face each other the game either has high stakes, or at the very least each meeting has the feel of a tournament game.

This season, Eastern is averaging 53.8 points per game, while Lynchburg-Clay is averaging 64.2 ppg. Both squads play excellent defense, both have high-quality head coaches and both programs have played each other in high-level, close games in recent memory. Also, don’t forget both teams each have a player on their roster signed by a Division I school, with LC’s Peyton Scott committed to Miami University and Eastern’s Alexa Pennington signed with Eastern Kentucky University.

This will be a big-time showdown for sure on Saturday night with the JV game scheduled to start at 6 p.m. at EBHS, followed by the varsity game.


• TODAY’S SCHEDULE (Friday, Jan. 11)
Boys Basketball
(Frontier Athletic Conference - FAC)
- Hillsboro at Washington
- McClain at Jackson
- Chillicothe at Miami Trace

(Southern Hills Athletic Conference - SHAC)
- North Adams at Lynchburg-Clay
- Whiteoak at Fairfield
- Fayetteville at Manchester
- Eastern Brown at Ripley

The game which stands out for Highland County is the second meeting of the season between the Fairfield Lions against the Whiteoak Wildcats, as this game will be played at Fairfield High School. In Round 1 between the two teams, the Wildcats defeated the Lions, 50-38. The biggest reason for their win in that game was a third frame where Whiteoak took over the game, outscoring Fairfield, 14-5 in the frame. At halftime of that first meeting on Dec. 14 at WHS, the score was 22-21 in favor of Fairfield.

That game also saw Hunter Ruckel lead WHS with 19 points, with Fairfield being led by James Bentley with 12 points. Entering this game, the Lions are 2-4 in the SHAC and 4-6 overall. Whiteoak is 2-3 in the SHAC and 5-6 overall.


• FINAL THOUGHTS BEFORE TIP-OFF
Today this is just a simple reminder that all results for all teams from Highland County can be emailed to sforsha@gmail.com.

Stephen Forsha is the sports editor of The Highland County Press. He can be reached at sforsha@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @HCPSportsEditor.