Flyers hold off Valley to win D4 sectional crown
McDERMOTT — After driving on a smooth highway in the first half, the St. Joseph Flyers made a wrong turn at halftime and found themselves on a bumpy back road.
The Flyers build an 18-point halftime lead but saw it dwindle to just one point with a minute to play.
But clutch shooting by Ryan Payne and Zach Roach enabled the Flyers to hold off the Lucasville Valley Indians 59-56 to capture the Division 4 sectional championship.
Roach scored a game-high 22 points and Payne 13 as the Flyers improved to 18-5.
Valley (9-15) was led by Bryce Stuart with 19 points — 7 in the fourth quarter — while George Arnett and Mason Zaler scored 11 each.
After scoring 41 points in the first half, St. Joseph managed just 18 in the second half. Valley had 23 points in the first half and got 33 in the second half.
“We played outstanding in the first half. It was one of our best defensive games of the year,” said Flyers’ coach Chris Barnes.
“We got out of the flow in the second half and, to be honest, we started playing not to lose instead of playing free and easy like we always do.”
The biggest problem the Flyers created for themselves came at the foul line as they converted just 6-of-16 free throw attempts including 3-of-10 in the fourth quarter.
A basket by Zaler put Valley up 8-6 midway through the first quarter, but Payne converted a 3-point play and Jimmy Mahlmeister drained a trifecta and the Flyers were up 12-8 with 3:23 left in the quarter.
Payne finished the quarter with 7 points and Jared Johnson’s basket before the buzzer gave St. Joseph a 16-8 lead.
Roach heated up in the second quarter and scored 12 points including a pair of triples and Jared Johnson added 4 points as the Flyers built a 41-23 cushion at the break.
The Flyers came out of the locker room cold and managed just a 3-pointer by Roach and basket by J.C. Damron in the third quarter and Valley managed to get within 46-31.
The Indians continued to use the momentum and Flyers’ cold shooting to cut the deficit to 51-46 with three minutes left to play.
St. Joseph scored 30 seconds later to go up 53-46 but a 3-pointer by Stuart got Valley within 53-49 with two minutes to go.
The Flyers missed two one-and-one situations and Valley’s Ty Perkins hit a 3-pointer to get the Indians within 53-52.
But Payne found his own clutch shot and answered with a basket and the Flyers were up 55-52.
The Flyers were up 58-55 after Roach hit a basket and then went 1-for-2 from the line with 18.5 seconds to play.
Kayden Mollette hit the front end of a one-and-one for Valley with 2.4 seconds. Mollette missed the second shot and Valley got the rebound but came down out of bounds.
“We were up three and we had a foul to give so we fouled again and they had a one-and-one instead of throwing up a 3. We executed perfectly,” said Barnes.
“(Johnson) did a great job on Zaler and (Payne) did a great job on Mollett. I’m really proud of these guys. It was a great team effort. They truly deserved and earn (the win).”
Damron took the inbounds pass and was fouled. He then made one of two free throws to set the final score.
UP NEXT: St. Joseph plays Federal Hocking at 8 p.m. Monday, March 2, in the district semifinals at Ohio University. Federal Hocking beat Waterford 62-43.
Lucasville 8 15 8 25 = 56
St. Joseph 16 25 5 13 = 59
LUCASVILLE VALLEY (9-15): George Arnett 1 3 0-0 11, Ty Perkins 0 2 0-2 6, Carter Nickel 1 0 0-0 2, Kayden Mollette 0 2 1-2 7, Jared Gahm 0 0 0-0 0, Jacob Greathouse 0 0 0-0 0, Bryce Stuart 4 2 5-6 19, Mason Zaler 5 0 1-1 11. Totals: 11 9 7-11. Fouls: 20. Fouled out: None.
ST. JOSEPH (18-5): Jackson Rowe 2 0 0-0 4, Matthew Sheridan 0 0 0-0 0, Zach Roach 6 3 1-3 22, Ryan Payne 4 1 2-5 13, J.C. Damron 2 0 3-6 7, Jared Johnson 3 0 0-0 6, Jimmy Mahlmeister 2 1 0-2 7, Max Weber 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 19 5 6-16- 59. Fouls: 15. Fouled out: None.