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Chesapeake’s upset bid falls just short in 53-48 overtime loss to Lynchburg-Clay

Chesapeake Panthers’ senior guard Gage Stephens (with ball) drives down the middle of the Lynchburg-Clay defense and past Eric McLaughlin (12) during Wednesday’s Division III regional semifinal game. The Panthers lost to the Mustangs 53-48 in overtime. (Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Chesapeake Panthers’ senior guard Gage Stephens (with ball) drives down the middle of the Lynchburg-Clay defense and past Eric McLaughlin (12) during Wednesday’s Division III regional semifinal game. The Panthers lost to the Mustangs 53-48 in overtime. (Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Jim Walker

jim.walker@irontontribune.com

 

ATHENS — David finally ran out of stones.

The Chesapeake Panthers kept slaying one Goliath after another during their postseason tournament run, but the shots wouldn’t fall in Wednesday’s Division III regional semifinal game and the Lynchburg-Clay Mustangs escaped with a 53-48 overtime win.

Chesapeake (19-7) fell behind by 11 points in the third quarter but rallied to tie the game at 44 on a 3-pointer by Gage Rhoades with 2:11 left in regulation.

A couple of missed shots over the final two minutes sent the game into overtime where the Mustangs outscored the Panthers 9-4.

Panthers’ head coach Ryan Davis was disappointed with the loss but could do nothing but praise the effort of his underdog team not only Wednesday against the high-powered Mustangs but throughout the tournament.

“I really think this team stepped up and played different at tournament time. They were probably out-matched a little bit, but we fought and scrapped and at the end of regulation we hold them to 44,” said Davis.

“They scored 53 and that’s in an overtime game. It was a good effort. We got a good effort off the bench. Everywhere we went the effort was good.”

After shooting 61 percent in the district title game, the Panthers were 18-of-54 for 33 percent and many of the missed shots were around the basket, especially in the first half.

“We weren’t in the best of position all night to do that, but we fought and scrapped and kept (Lynchburg) in that position and gave ourselves a chance to win it. It just didn’t fall for us. It wasn’t meant to be it seemed like,” said Davis.

Gage Rhoades had a game-high 25 points to go with four steals, two assists and five rebounds to lead the Panthers.

Jake Stevens had 10 points while Wes Stephens pulled down 10 rebounds and Brad Meadows nine.

“Gage’s effort tonight was great, but you look at five seniors who didn’t even get to play much in junior high have stuck it out and gutted it out and put up with me and themselves to where we had a legitimate chance,” said Davis.

Lynchburg-Clay (24-2) was led by Eric McLaughlin with 16 points and 11 rebounds. River Mullins and Devin Pierson scored 10 points each and Joe Giordano had nine points and 10 rebounds.

The taller Mustangs out-rebounded the Panthers 45-32 including 16-9 on the offensive glass.

“Things didn’t go our way, but it’s hard to be ashamed of what product we had on the floor tonight. You can’t take anything away from Lynchburg. They’re a good team. They have a number of athletes that are hard to match up with,” said Davis.

Baskets by McLaughlin and Giordano gave the Mustangs an 11-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.

A 3-pointer by McLaughlin with 2:58 left in the half gave the Mustangs a 23-16 lead but Rhoades and Stephens made two free throws each before a layup by Pierson made it 25-20 at the half.

McLaughlin and Pierson hit triples to start the second half as the lead went to 31-20.

Trailing 37-26 with 2:50 left in the third quarter, the Panthers began to battle back as Rhoades hit a foul shot, Stephens made a layup and Rhoades turned a steal into a layup and it was 37-31.

Brandon Storer hit a 10-footer at the buzzer to put the Mustangs’ lead at 39-31.

Lynchburg-Clay opened up a 42-33 lead with 6:38 to play when Stevens and Rhoades both drained trifectas and Rhoades had another steal for a layup and suddenly the lead was 42-41.

McLaughlin’s layup made it 44-41 but Rhoades hit a trey with 2:11 on the clock to tie the game and then came up with a steal.

The Panthers began to stall and play for the final shot and actually had two attempts but both failed to fall.

Rhoades hit a 12-foot runner a minute into overtime as the Panthers went up 46-44 but Giordano answered with a 3-pointer as the Mustangs took the lead for good.

A layup by Pierson made it 49-46 before two foul shots by Kolton Webb got the Panthers within 49-48 with 1:05 on the clock.

Zach Blankenship was fouled and made both ends of a one-and-one as the Mustangs went up 51-48.

After a missed 3-pointer by the Panthers, McLaughlin was fouled and hit both free throws with 5.8 seconds left to seal the outcome.

Davis praised seniors Austin Hutchison, Kolton Webb, Wes Stephens, Brad Meadows and Gage Rhoades.

“The seniors are going to be missed tremendously. To work and give themselves that chance and the leadership they gave us was great. At one point in the game I didn’t think it was going to be like that, but it ended up where we had a shot,” said Davis.

Lynchburg-Clay will play Marion Pleasant in the regional title game on Saturday. Marion Pleasant beat Sugarcreek Garaway 77-63 in Wednesday’s second game.

Chesapeake 7 13 11 13 4 = 48

Lynchburg 11 14 14 5 9 = 53

CHESAPEAKE (19-7): Jake Stevens 4-9 0-0 10, Kolton Webb 0-3 2-2 2, Gage Rhoades 10-27 3-4 25, Brad Meadows 3-9 1-2 7, Wesley Stephens 1-4 2-2 4, Austin Hutchison 0-1 0-0 0, Casey McComas 0-1 0-0 0, David Dotson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 18-54 8-10 48. 3-point goals: 4-23 (Stevens 2-6, Webb 0-2, Rhoades 2-14, McComas 0-1). Rebounds: 9-O, 23-D = 32 (Stephens 10, Meadows 9, Rhoades 5). Team/deadball rebounds: 3. Assists: 4 (Rhoades 2). Steals: 8 (Rhoades 4, Stevens 2). Blocks: 5 (Meadows 3). Turnovers: 8. Fouls: 13. Fouled out: None.

LYNCHBURG-CLAY (24-2): Zach Blankenship 1-5 4-5 6, Eric McLaughlin 5-8 4-4 16, River Mullins 4-12 0-0 10, Devin Pierson 4-14 2-5 10, Joe Giordano 4-13 0-1 9, Brandon Storer 1-1 0-0 2, Josh Ahrmann 0-2 0-0 0, Christian Inman 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 19-54 10-15 53. 3-point goals: 5-20 (Blankenship 0-2, McLaughlin 2-4, Mullins 2-4, Pierson 0-3, Giordano 1-7). Rebounds: 16-O, 29-D = 45 (McLaughlin 11, Giordano 10). Team/deadball rebounds: 6. Assists: 13 (Blankenship 5, Pierson 3). Steals: 5 (Blankenship 2, Giordano 2). Blocks: 3 (McLaughlin 2). Turnovers: 13. Fouls: 10. Fouled out: None.