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Flyers can’t close out against Clay

By JIM WALKER

Tribune Sports Editor

The St. Joseph Flyers might want to watch a few episodes of “The Closer.”

For the fifth time this season, the Flyers were involved in a close game hat could have gone either way, and four the fourth time it went the wrong way.

The Portsmouth Clay Panthers managed to hold off the Flyers 69-64 Tuesday in the first game the third annual Ironton Classic.

“We’ve got to learn how to win the close games. We have to learn how to close games out,” said Flyers’ coach Jeremy Williams. “Clay is a good team and both teams played hard, they just made plays at the end and we didn’t.”

The game featured 19 lead changes and was tied on three occasions including 12-12 at the end of the first quarter and 25-25 at the half.

St. Joseph (2-4) had the biggest lead of the game at 45-39 with 2:48 left in the third quarter following a steal and layup by Justin Mahlmeister.

Clay got within 47-46 on a layup by Cody Delotell but Payton Blair drained a baseline jumper with three seconds on the clock and the Flyers led 49-46 going into the fourth quarter.

Clay came back to take a 55-51 lead but T.J. Young buried two straight trifectas as the Flyers went up 57-55 with 3:37 to play. Young hit a foul shot less than a minute later to extend the lead to 58-55 with 2:49 left.

But Nathan Burchett hit a 3-pointer and was fouled after the shot. He completed the 4-point play and Clay had the lead for good at 59-58.

Young’s free throws closed the gap to 63-52 with 37 seconds left, but Delotell made both ends of a one-and-one.

Blair’s layup with 25 seconds left and it was 65-64. Jon Valentine hit the front end of a one-and-one five seconds later as Clay led by two.

St. Joseph missed a on 3-point attempt and Valentine was fouled. He hit the first shot with five seconds to go and Mahlmeister got the rebound, but the Flyers were unable to get off a shot as Clay stole the ball near midcourt.

“We had our chances. We missed a lot of easy shots and too many free throws. You have to finish when you get the ball inside,” said Williams.

Young — named the game MVP for the Flyers — finished with 22 points and five rebounds. Blair also had 22 points along with six assists. Mahlmeister also had six rebounds.

Clay (2-3) was led by Valentine with 15 while Burchett and Porter scored 14 each as the Panthers shot 67 percent from the floor including 5 of 8 from 3-point range.

St. Joseph 12 13 24 15 = 64

Ports. Clay 12 13 21 23 = 69

SAINT JOSEPH (2-4): Payton Blair 7 2 2-2 22, Eli Lewis 1 0 0-0 2, Tanner Riley 3 0 3-5 9, Justin Mahlmesiter 2 1 0-0 7, T.J. Young 6 2 4-7 22, Cody Blackburn 1 0 0-2 2. Totals: 25-49 9-16 64. Fouls: 11. Fouled out: None. 3-point goals: 5-14. Rebounds: 7 offense, 11 defense = 18 (Mahlmeister 6, Young 5). Team rebounds: 4. Assists: 10 (Blair 6). Steals: 10 (Mahlmeister 3, Riley 3, Young 2, Blair 2). Turnovers: 9. Blocked shots: Young 1.

PORTSMOUTH CLAY (2-3): Jon Valentine 6 0 3-6 15, Nathan Burchett 2 3 1-1 14, Josh Porter 6 0 2-3 14, Jared Ruby 1 0 0-0 2, Chase Hiles 1 0 0-0 2, Chandler King 0 2 0-0 6, Cody Delotell 3 0 2-3 8, Cody Bussler 4 0 0-0 8. Totals: 28-42 8-13 69. Fouls: 17. Fouled out: Bussler (4th 0:37). 3-point goals: 5-8. Rebounds: 5 offense, 19 defense = 24 (Burchett 8, Porter 8). Team rebounds: 2. Assists: 13 (Valentine 5, Bussler 3). Steals: 7 (Bussler 3). Turnovers: 17. Blocked shots:4 (Porter 2, Burchett 2).