For Coach Nathan Copas and his North Adams Green Devils, it was the chance to grab another sectional title and make the coveted trip to “The Convo.” For Coach Matt Carson and his Lynchburg-Clay Mustangs, it was the chance to earn that same trip plus a little added incentive of avenging one of their two losses of the season, a 56-52 defeat on their home court to the Devils back on Jan. 15. With that on the line, the two members of the Southern Hills Athletic Conference met on the floor at Waverly High School on Feb. 20 to decide the Division III sectional championship.
It turned out to be a tough night for the Green Devils as the Mustangs put together a complete game at just the right time, hitting on all the right cylinders as they pulled away in the second half to bring an end to the North Adams season, capturing the sectional title with a 70-51 victory. The Mustangs put together runs of 8-0, 9-0, 6-0, 14-2, and 7-0 again, which was too much for the Adams Countians to overcome in the long run.
“They just got really hot and we let them get in transition and we were in trouble,” said Copas after the loss. “We gave them too many second chance opportunities which you can’t do at this level of play.”
It was the Devils who got off to the hot start on Saturday night, getting a pair of three-pointers from Justin Knechtly to take a quick 7-2 lead, but that lead vanished quickly when eight straight Lynchburg points flipped the scoreboard. A three from Ryan Shupert with 2:35 to go in the first period put North Adams back up 12-10, but the Mustangs scored the final nine of the quarter, capped by a Devin Pierson three at the buzzer to take a 19-12 lead.
A third Knechtly three-pointer early in the second stanza pulled the Devils back to within two but again it was the Mustangs running off six straight to extend their margin. A deep three by Lynchburg’s Eric McLaughlin gave his team a 30-21 lead and a jumper by North Adams’ Isaiah Anderson ended the first half with the Mustangs up by nine.
On their first possession of the third quarter, the Devils got a fourth long bomb from Knechtly to make it 30-24, but that was as close as they would get the rest of the evening, as the Mustangs had an answer for every North Adams rally attempt. A 14-2 run midway through the third quarter put the Devils’ season in serious jeopardy and gave the Mustangs a commanding 47-28 advantage.
The Devils got three-pointers from Trey Meade and Shupert, plus a Cole Meade put back in the third, but when the period drew to a close, it was looking gloomy for the boys from Seaman as they trailed 51-36.
Early in the fourth, the Devils got a pair of three-point goals from Patrick England, but again the Mustangs had answers as another 7-0 spurt gave them a 66-44 lead. With his career drawing to an evident close, Trey Meade fired in a long three-pointer with 2:52 to play, and the final basket of the season for the Devils came on a stick back by Seth Daulton as the Mustangs prepared to cut down the nets as sectional champions, claiming the 70-51 victory.
In their season-ending loss, the Green Devils had two players hit double figures, led by 14 points from Justin Knechtly, followed by Trey Meade with 13. Patrick England and Ryan Shupert added 6 each. The Devils hit 10 three-pointers in the defeat.
The high-flying Lynchburg offense was led by 22 points from River Mullins, with Devin Pierson right behind with 21. The Mustangs improved to 21-2 on the season and moved on to the Division III District Tournament at Ohio University, where they will face Wheelersburg on Feb. 28 at 3:45 p.m.
A successful North Adams season ends with a final record of 16-8 and they were champions of the SHAC small school division with their 10-3 conference mark. The team bids farewell to a large and talented senior class, including Trey and Cole Meade, Cole Roades, Mikey Sheeley, Brandon Gingerich, Caleb Wagers, and Robert Lacy.
NAHS 12 9 15 15 —51
LCHS 19 11 21 19 —70
NAHS (51): Anderson 2 0-0 4, England 2 0-0 6, Shupert 2 0-0 6, Knechtly 5 0-0 14, Daulton 1 0-0 2, Gingerich 2 0-0 4, T. Meade 5 1-2 13, C. Meade 1 0-0 2, Team 20 1-2 51.
LCHS (70): Blankenship 2 1-2 6, Storer 0 0-1 0, McLaughlin 3 1-2 9, Scott 0 1-2 1, Mullins 5 11-12 22, Pierson 9 1-4 21, Giordano 3 0-1 6, Inman 2 0-0 5, Team 24 15-23 70.
NAHS- Knechtly 4, England 2, Shupert 2, T. Meade 2
LCHS- Blankenship 1, McLaughlin 2, Mullins 1, Pierson 2, Inman 1