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Panthers must shut down Mustangs’ offensive power

Chesapeake Panthers’ Wesley Stephens (33) drives inside against Lucasville Valley’s Bryce Romanello (1) and scores during a 68-52 Division III district championship game win. (Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Chesapeake Panthers’ Wesley Stephens (33) drives inside against Lucasville Valley’s Bryce Romanello (1) and scores during a 68-52 Division III district championship game win. (Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Jim Walker

jim.walker@irontontribune.com

 

CHESAPEAKE — Seeing is believing.

Chesapeake Panthers’ head coach Ryan Davis got to see the Lynchburg-Clay Mustangs up close in the district tournament and he came away shaking his head.

“It was good for us to see them here (at Athens) because we can compare their length and their speed and athleticism against guys we know and it’s kind of scary,” said Davis.

Chesapeake and Lynchburg-Clay will meet at 6:15 p.m. on Wednesday in the Division III regional semifinals at Ohio University’s Convocation Center.

The Mustangs rallied in the second half of the Division III district finals to beat Fairland 73-62. Chesapeake lost twice to Fairland during the regular season. Both teams are members of the Ohio Valley Conference.

Lynchburg-Clay (23-2) is led by 6-foot-1 senior Devin Pierson. The first team all-district player led the team with a 19.6 scoring average.

Also in double figures are 6-4 sophomore Eric McLaughlin and 6-3 junior Joe Giordano. Both averaged 12.5 points a game and were third team all-district.

Rounding out the starting lineup are 5-10 senior guard Zach Blankenship and 6-1 junior River Mullins.

Pierson had 23 points and Giordano 21 in the district finals. Top reserves Christian Inman — a 6-2 senior — scored 12 points off the bench in the win over Fairland.

“Not only physically are they impressive, but then they can play,” said Davis.

“It seemed like they went on runs the whole game and it was somebody different every time. Their kids are standing there like ‘it’s his turn,’ and they would go for seven, eight points each. It’ll be kind of a daunting task.”

Chesapeake (19-6) played well in its district title game win over over Lucasville Valley.

The Panthers shot 61.4 percent in the 66-52 win over the Indians.

Leading the Panthers is two-time first team Southeast All-District selection Gage Rhoades with a 20.6 scoring average. Rhoades was the Southeast District 13 Coaches’ Player of the Year and the North/south All-Star Game representative.

The Panthers’ 6-6 senior center Brad Meadows give the team an inside-outside punch. Meadows — a second team all-district pick — averaged 15.4 points and 12.5 rebounds a game.

Joining the duo in the starting lineup are 5-10 senior guard Kolton Webb, 6-3 senior forward Wesley Stephens and 5-11 sophomore guard Jake Stevens.

In the district finals, Stevens was 6-of-6 from the field and scored 16 points.

Coming off the bench for the Panthers are 6-foot senior Austin Hutchison, 5-10 junior guard Casey McComas and 6-2 freshman forward Ty Wilcoxon.

The second game at 8 p.m. matches Marion Pleasant (15-11) and Sugarcreek Garaway (23-3). Wednesday’s winners meet on Saturday in the regional title game at a time to be announced.

Chesapeake Panthers (19-6)

No. Player Pos. Ht. Gr.

2 Jake Stevens G 5-11 So.

5 Kolton Webb G 5-10 Sr.

23 Gage Rhoades G 5-11 Sr.

24 Brad Meadows C 6-06 Sr.

33 Wesley Stephens F 6-03 Sr.

Top Reserves

00 Austin Hutchison F 6-00 Sr.

3 Casey McComas G 5-10 Jr.

32 Ty Wilcoxon F 6-02 Fr.

Head coach: Ryan Davis

Lynchburg-Clay Mustangs (23-2)

No. Player Pos. Ht. Gr.

10 Zach Blankenship G 5-10 Sr.

12 Eric McLaughlin C 6-04 So.

22 River Mullins F 6-01 Jr.

23 Devin Pierson G 6-00 Sr.

30 Joe Giordano F 6-03 Jr.

Top Reserves

34 Christian Einman F 6-02 Sr.

24 Josh Ahrmann G 6-01 Sr.

11 Brandon Storer G 5-11 Sr.

Head coach: Matt Carson