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Cold-shooting Flyers fall to Lions in sectional finals


St. Joseph Flyers’ J.C. Damron (25) blocks a shot by Leesburg Fairfield Lions’ Brayden Zimmerman during Saturday’s Division 4 sectional championship game. The Flyers fell 56-43. (Photo By Tim Gearhart)

Jim Walker
jim.walker@irontontribune.com

The only thing that has been consistent about the 2020-21 basketball season has been its inconsistency.
And the St. Joseph Flyers’ offense was a prime example.
Between three COVID shutdowns that cost them 42 days of games and practice plus some bad winter weather that caused them to lose 8 more days, the Flyers offense has been off and on. Unfortunately, on Saturday, the offense was “off.”
“Our defense wasn’t that bad tonight. We just really struggled offensively, especially against that kind of physicality,” said Flyers’ coach Chris Barnes.
The Leesburg Fairfield Lions used a physically aggressive defense to slow the Flyers’ offense as they pulled away late to post a 56-43 win in the Division 4 sectional finals.
The scoring was slow in the first quarter. Jackson Rowe hit a 3-pointer to get the Flyers going and J.C. Damron had a putback, was fouled and hit the free throw to tie the game at 9-9 with 2:02 left in the quarter and neither team scored the rest of the quarter.
Reece Teeters hit a 3-pointer to start the second quarter and put the Lions up 12-9 to begin the second quarter and he later made a free throw and it was 13-9.
Jimmy Mahlmeister drained a 3-pointer as the Flyers got within 13-12.
Leesburg got a foul shot from Zinc and Teeters his a putback and the lead was 16-12.
Darmon hit his own 3-pointer but two straight jumpers by Teeters and a layup by Watson gave the Lions a 22-15 cushion. Damron’s free throw cut the deficit to 22-16 at the half.
The Flyers were within 24-20 on a layup by Damron, but a 3-pointer by Brayden Zimmerman made it 27-20 and a layup by Jon Bentley and a trey by Teeters opened up a 32-22 lead that went to 36-24 at the end of the third quarter.
The Flyers tried to mount a comeback in the fourth quarter after falling behind 40-25.
Damron, Matt Sheridan and Mahlmeister all hit 3-pointers and two foul shots by Jared Johnson got St. Joseph within 44-35 with 2:02 and another triple by Sheridan cut the deficit to 44-38 with 1:19 left.
But the Lions were able to converted 12-of-15 free throws in the final quarter to preserve the win. For the game, the Lions were 16-of-25 from the foul line.
Damron finish with 20 points and 11 rebounds while Mahlmeister knocked down three 3-pointers and scored 11 points.
“Jimmy had a really good game and J.C. had his fifth consecutive 20-point double-double game,” said Barnes.
The Lions were led by Teeters with 20 points.
Leesburg (8-11) had just 8 turnovers and the Flyers 11. On the season, St. Joseph averaged only 8.7 turnovers a game.
The Flyers end the season at 12-6 and say goodbye to seniors Rowe, Damron, Mahlmeister, Jared Johnson, Max Weber, Will Whaley and Jacob Salisbury.
“This senior class has had four consecutive winning seasons and that’s hard to beat in St. Joe history. I’m proud of what they’ve done. Even with all the stops and starts, they never complained or made excuses,” said Barnes.
Leesburg 9 13 14 20 = 56
St. Joseph 9 7 8 19 = 43
LEESBURG FAIRFIELD (8-11): T. J. Mootz 0 0 2-2 2, Brayden Zimmerman 2 1 0-0 7, Koben Zink 2 1 1-4 8, Jon Bentley 2 1 0-0 7Reese Teeters 7 0 6-9 20, Caleb Payne 0 0 0-0 0, Tucker Watson 1 0 2-4 4, Conner Priest 0 1 5-6 8. Totals: 14 4 16-25 56. Fouls: 15. Fouled out; Bentley.
ST. JOSEPH (12-6): Jackson Rowe 0 1 1-3 4, Matt Sheridan 0 2 0 0-2 6, J.C. Damron 4 2 6-9 20, Jared Johnson 0 0 2-2 2, Jimmy Mahlmeister 1 3 0-0 11, Michael Mahlmeister 0 0 0-0 0, Jacob Salibury 0 0 0-0 0, Max Weber 0 0 0-0 0, Drew Brown 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 5 8 9-16 43. Fouls: 20. Fouled out: None.