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Flyers can’t find their shot in sectional title loss to Lions

St. Joseph Flyers’ senior guard Isaac Whaley (4) drives toward the lane against a Leesburg Fairfield defender during Tuesday’s Division IV sectional tournament championship game. The Flyers fell to the Lions, 57-39. (Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Jim Walker
jim.walker@irontontribune.com

McDERMOTT — Forget the peaks and valleys. This was more like a plateau, two pits and a mountain.
That kind of landscape was what the St. Joseph Flyers wanted to travel across.
The Flyers shooting disappeared for the second and third quarters and the result was a 57-39 loss to the Leesburg Fairfield Lions in the Division IV sectional finals on Tuesday.
Flyers’ coach Chris Barnes said the cold shooting and loss of leading scorer Zach Roach early with three fouls was a bad combination, especially since they were missing Ryan Payne who sat the second half of the season due to transfer rules.
“The loss of Ryan the second half of the season made it tough, but we battled through it and won all the close ones,” said Barnes.
“Credit the kids love of the game and their effort. We have a lot of young kids who got some good experience. But we’re really going to miss (senior) Isaac (Whaley).”
The Flyers started well in the first quarter but only managed five total points in the next two quarters before outscoring Fairfield 23-17 in the last quarter.
Fairfield took a 6-0 lead to start the game but the Flyers answered with 10 unanswered points.
J.C. Damron hit a 3-pointer, Isaac Whaley sank two foul shots, Jimmy Mahlmeister hit from the lane and Whaley drained a trifecta and it was 10-6 with 2:11 on the clock.
But the Lions rallied to go up 12-11 as Wyatt Willey hit a basket at the buzzer.
Willey, Buddemeyer and Austin Setty scored to begin the second quarter and it was 18-11. Mahlmeister then sank two foul shots and it was 18-13.
The Lions picked right back up from there as they built as 26-13 lead. Max Weber hit a foul shot for the Flyers only to have Willey sink a 3-pointer just before the buzzer and it was 29-14 at the break.
Although Fairfield was limited to 11 points in the third quarter, St. Joseph (14-9) could only manage two foul shots by Roach and fell behind 40-16.
The shots finally began to find the net in the fourth quarter as Roach hit a 3-pointer, Damron had a putback and Mahlmeister and Whaley each hit 3-pointers.
Mahlmeister hit another trifecta and Damron’s layup cut the spread to 47-32.
But the Flyers were forced to foul in an attempt to get back in the game and the Lions converted 13-of-20 free throws in the quarter to help prevent the comeback.
Mahlmeister scored 10 points to lead the Flyers. Whaley and Damron scored eight each and Roach finished with seven.
The Lions (12-10) were paced by Buddlemeyer with 21 points. Willey scored 14 and Bryson Simmons 11.
Fairfield will play Coal Grove at 5:30 p.m. Sunday in the district semifinals at Ohio University’s Convocation Center.
St. Joseph 11 3 2 23 = 39
Fairfield 12 17 11 17 = 57
ST. JOSEPH (14-9): Jackson Rowe 0 0 0-0 0, Isaac Whaley 0 2 2-2 8, Zach Roach 1 1 2-2 7, Jimmy Mahlmeister 1 2 2-3 10, Max Weber 0 0 1-2 1, Andrew White 0 0 0-0 0, Jared Johnson 0 0 0-0 0, Michael Mahlmeister 1 0 0-0 2, J.C. Damron 2 1 1-2 8, Matt Sheridan 0 0 0-0 0, Will Whaley 0 1 0-0 3. Totals: 5 7 8-11 39. Turnovers: 11. Fouls: 22. Fouled out: Sheridan.
LEESBURG FAIRFIELD (12-10): Austin Setty 2 0 2-2 6, Reece Teeters 0 0 0-0 0, Sam Buddlemeyer 8 0 5-5 21, Wyatt Willey 5 0 4-9 14, Ethan Saunders 1 0 1-2 3Bryson Simmons 4 1 0-1 11, Conner Priest 0 0 0-0 0, Jon Bentley 0 0 2-2 2, Caleb Payne 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 21 1 14-21 57. Turnovers: 15. Fouls: 13. Fouled out: None.