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Seniors key to Flyers success

Not even the Three Musketeers can match this kind of camaraderie.

For the first time since 1975, there will be a sectional championship banner flying in the St. Joseph Flyers trophy case.

The Flyers 51-48 win over Symmes Valley Monday gave them the Division IV sectional title, their first since beating Chesapeake 79-74 in the Class A tournament at Ironton High School.

Leading the Flyers to the title were the team’s five seniors including center Ryan Staton who said the group’s longtime relationship played a key role in their success.

“It helped because our whole class has been playing together for a long time,” Staton said. “We’re pretty close in school and out of school. We know each other better.”

The trip to the district tournament on Tuesday carries another piece of history. St. Joseph will play Latham Western will creates a matchup of the last two teams in Southeastern Ohio to qualify for the district tournament at Ohio University.

The sectional was a goal of the seniors before the season. Basedow, the team’s leading scorer, said the Flyers have not limited their aspirations.

“One goal we set was to win a sectional championship and go as far as we can in the tournament,” Basedow said. “Right now we’ve accomplished a lot, but we want more.”

St. Joseph began last season as though it would be the season the draught would end. The Flyers were 7-1 when the swoon hit and they finished with a losing record.

This season, they started 6-1 and then lost four straight before rebounding to finish 11-9 in the regular season.

Schwab said the seniors refused to let history repeat itself.

“There was more leadership because we had more seniors. We said we’re not going to go on a losing streak,” Schwab said.

“We kept everybody’s heads up. We kept games intense and practices intense. We decided not to let a loss effect us. We always bounced back.”

A defensive specialist, Crum said he won’t forget the feeling after winning the sectional game and expects it to help in the district tournament as well.

“We wanted (the sectional) since we were freshmen. It feels good. It’s going to be exciting playing in the district. It was one of our season’s goals. We want to play our best and see what happens,” Crum said.

The title was bittersweet for Lewis who began the season as the team’s leading scorer over the first three games.

But Lewis suffered a knee injury in game four — an overtime loss to Symmes Valley — that put him on the sideline until the final game of the regular season last week when he played on Senior Night.

Lewis originally injured his knee during warm-ups last season getting ready to play in the sectional tournament.

“I just talked to the players and tried my best to encourage them,” said Lewis of his role this season.

“It’s hard to sit on the bench and watch. I didn’t feel like I did a lot, but winning the sectional title feels good.”

The district semifinals will tip off at 6:15 p.m.