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Mustangs bow out of sectional semifinals in loss to Zane Trace

The Highland County Press - Staff Photo - Create Article
Lynchburg-Clay junior Asher Faust is pictured in the Mustangs' sectional semifinal game, Tuesday at Zane Trace. (HCP Photos/Stephen Forsha)
Stephen Forsha, The Highland County Press

KINNIKINNICK  —  The Division III SE District Sectional Semifinals didn’t have the start or final score the No. 19 seeded Lynchburg-Clay Mustangs wanted to achieve on Monday night. The Mustangs kept battling and made things interesting, but eventually lost to the host No. 14 seeded Zane Trace Pioneers, 49-41.

A team that had no seniors on the roster, the Mustangs had their share of struggles in the first quarter as they were outscored 12-4, starting the game trailing 10-0 following a surge of scoring by the Pioneers. 

The end to the season leaves the Mustangs with an overall record of 10-13, and in Southern Hills Athletic Conference games this season, LCHS finished 6-7. Head coach Brian Callahan spoke about the game. 

“We got to within five points late. I thought they (his LCHS team) fought until there were zeroes,” Callahan said. “We talked about playing until there are zeroes all year, and they definitely did that, and they sold out. They sold out, and they gave themselves a chance, and that's all you can ask for. We were down five with the ball and had an open shot, a really good shot and then we missed it and got an offensive rebound, got another good shot and we missed it. Sometimes that happens.

“I’m just proud of the way they finished. Nothing has been easy for this group this year. They fought, they’ve clawed, they’ve scrapped for every single thing they've had. I was super pleased with them because I told them, you ended up, in games decided by 10 points or less, 8-2 on the year, 3-0 in overtime games. This is only the second game we've lost all year that's been a 10-point or less game, so I'm very proud of that point, because that means they’re fighting to the end.”

The path the Pioneers — who are coached by Hall of Famer Gary Kellough — took against the Mustangs started with the 10-0 run that included two 3-pointers and two two-point baskets, leaving 3:41 left on the first-quarter clock. 

After the Mustangs called a timeout, they finally put points on the board with a basket by Cody Bell with 3:25 left in the first. After ZTHS added two more points to their total, Denver Clinton scored two points with a basket after grabbing a rebound with 2:21 left in the opening quarter for a 14-4 deficit, completing the scoring for the opening quarter. Clinton finished the game with 25 points. 

The Mustangs were outscored 11-10 in the second quarter, starting with the Mustangs getting on the board with a three-point play following a bucket and ensuing made free throw by Clinton, cutting the Pioneers’ lead to five points with 7:03 remaining in the first half. 

The Pioneers answered with a 3-pointer by Landen Jarrell and a free throw made by Gunnar McCullough, putting Zane Trace in front by nine points. Clinton answered by driving to the hoop for two points, and following a timeout, LCHS scored the next three points with a jumper from Clinton and a free throw made by Bell for a five-point deficit with 1:37 left in the second quarter. 

ZTHS ended the second frame with four straight points from Brock Jarrell, leaving the score 23-14 at halftime in favor of the Pioneers. 

Zane Trace and the Mustangs had trouble scoring points in the first half of the third frame, as both teams had many missed opportunities to add to their respective scoring totals, but eventually Landen Jarrell put the Pioneers ahead by 11 points with a basket at the 3:30 mark of the quarter. 

Each team then had a block with Landon Robinson of ZTHS and Clinton of LCHS each collecting a block, then each team exchanged baskets as McCullough and Clinton each put two points on the board for a ZTHS lead of 28-18. 

As time in the third quarter ticked away, the Pioneers scored five consecutive points, including a 3-pointer from Landen Jarrell, but the final basket of the third was a long-distance – while falling – 3-pointer from Clinton at the buzzer for a 33-21 score, still in favor of the Pioneers. 

LCHS in the fourth quarter trailed by as many as 12 points and by as little as five points, but when the final buzzer sounded, the Mustangs – despite outscoring the Pioneers 20-16 in the fourth — lost the game by eight points. 

Highlights for the Mustangs in the fourth included 3-pointers by Jay Cordrey and Austin Bell, and it was a layup by Trevor Niehaus – which was assisted by Austin Bell — that brought LCHS back to within five points of tying the score with 1:02 left in the fourth.

From there, Zane Trace made five of their final six free-throw attempts, and LCHS had a jumper from Clinton. 

In all, the fourth-quarter scoring for the Mustangs included eight points by Clinton, Niehaus with three points, the 3-pointers by Cordrey and Austin Bell, plus two points from Cody Bell.

For the game, LCHS totaled 13 two-point baskets, three 3-pointers, and they were 6-of-10 from the free-throw line. LCHS totaled 12 turnovers.

Final scoring for LCHS also included Cody Bell (five), Austin Bell (five), Cordrey (three) and Niehaus (three).

“Losing is never easy,” Callahan said. “It’s always hard, but when you go home at night and you know that you sold out, you gave everything you could and then the other team just hit more shots and you can't fix it, then you can sleep at night.

“I think there are a lot of freshmen coming up that are going to be pushing these guys, and I’m excited to see all these guys’ progression as well. But we lose no seniors, which was another thing that I was really pleased with what we were able to do this year with a lot of guys who weren't a young team, because we had a lot of juniors, but we were a young varsity team. I think the future's bright at Lynchburg-Clay.”

The pioneers’ final scoring included Landen Jarrell with a team-best 17 points, and McCullough following with 10 points. The rest of the ZTHS final scoring included: Ezra Rippeth (eight), Brock Jarrell (eight) and Landen Robinson (six). 

Zane Trace will play in a Division III SE District Sectional Final game on Saturday, Feb. 24 against No. 3 seeded North Adams at 6:15 p.m. at Piketon High School. 

    04 10 07 20 – 41
ZTHS    12 11 10 16 — 49

ZANE TRACE (49)  — L.Jarrell 1 (3) 6-8 17, E.Rippeth 4 (0) 0-0 8, B.Jarrell 1 (2) 0-0 8, L.Robinson 2 (0) 2-2 6, G.McCullough 1 (2) 2-8 10. TOTALS: 9 (7) 10-18 49.

LYNCHBURG-CLAY (41) — J.Cordrey 0 (1) 0-0 3, C.Bell 2 (0) 1-2 5, A.Bell 1 (1) 0-2 5, T.Niehaus 1 (0) 1-2 3, D.Clinton 9 (1) 4-4 25. TOTALS: 13 (3) 6-10 41.

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