Mustangs hang on late for 65-60 win, increase conference lead –
Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –
As they usually do, Peebles basketball fans showed up in big numbers on Tuesday night in their home gymnasium, anticipating two events-senior Camron Gordley reaching the 1,000 point plateau and then a win over the visiting Lynchburg-Clay Mustangs that would propel their Indians into a first place tie in the big school division of the Southern Hills Athletic Conference.
Unfortunately, the loyal followers of the red and white went home with only half of their wishes fulfilled. With a basket in the third quarter, Gordley eclipsed the 1,000 point mark, but when the final buzzer sounded on the varsity boys contest, it was the Mustangs getting their second win of the season over Peebles and putting themselves in prime position for their second consecutive SHAC title as they handed the home team a 65-60 defeat.
The battle on Tuesday night was very much a mirror image of the two teams’ earlier meeting, which the Mustangs won 45-42 on their home floor. Lynchburg held the lead for almost the entire game, while the Indians fought back time after time, and every time it looked like the Tribe was ready to take control, the Mustangs had an answer, many of those coming from far beyond the three-point arc, where the visitors connected from eight times in the win.
“I don’t know how many times we got back within striking distance and we would do something like a silly foul or give up an offensive rebound,” said Peebles head coach Josh Arey. “It just kind of kept us behind the eight ball all night. I thought we played hard and our effort was there all night, but the breaks of the game, a few things here and there, could have went either way.”
“Lynchburg is a good basketball team and this was one that we had to have but we can’t let it beat us twice and sit around feeling sorry for ourselves. We have got to come back.”
In the first quarter on Tuesday night, the two teams just sort of felt each other out and offense was at a premium. A Tanner Arey steal and score gave the Indians a 3-2 lead, but the home team didn’t score again for nearly three minutes. A 6-0 Lynchburg run during that span put the Mustangs in front 8-3, until a jumper by Bostin Robinson at the 3:11 mark broke the Peebles dry spell.
After that, there was nary a score from either side until there were just 22 seconds left in the opening period, when Gordley’s first basket of the night pulled the Indians back to within one at 8-7.
Early in the second stanza, a basket by Arey gave the home team their first lead at 9-8, but that lasted a whole of 15 seconds before a bucket by Joe Giordano began a 7-0 Lynchburg run, capped by an Eric McLaughlin three that made it 15-9 Mustangs.
The Indians answered with a 6-0 spurt of their own, all courtesy of Gordley, who got the fans on their feet each time he found the net in anticipation of his upcoming big moment. McLaughlin gave the lead back to the Mustangs, but Peebles’ Blake Stivers got loose inside to tie the game at 17 and when Gordley stepped beyond the arc to drill a three, the Indian faithful were out of their seats as their team took their biggest lead to that point and seemed to be on the verge of grabbing the momentum.
In the game of basketball, though, momentum can be quite fleeting and nothing breaks momentum like the three-point shot, or in the case of the Mustangs, nine straight points to end the first half, all of them coming from three-point land. Peebles would never lead again as a pair of treys from McLaughlin and another by Austin Hilt send Lynchburg to the intermission with a 26-20 advantage.
A Gordley basket early in the third period kept the Indians within six, but an unexpected long three-pointer from Brian Lampkin and a steal and score by Damin Pierson pushed the Mustang lead out to double digits at 33-22, but Peebles rallied behind the inspired play of Bostin Robinson, who scored six straight and the Indians were right back within striking distance.
Moments later, the wait was over for Gordley to etch his name in the annals of Peebles basketball history as he hit a short jumper in the lane to surpass the 1,000 point mark for his career, and pull his team back within 35-30. The game was temporarily halted while the senior forward was awarded the game ball and received hugs from teammates, coaches, and his father Yancy, a pretty fair player in his own right.
“I have always just tried to be one of the greatest players to come out of Peebles,” said Gordley. “I feel like I have played the best that I could and to be able to do this right after Beau (Justice) and so man other great players here, I am just honored and humbled to feel like I am one of them now. I can cement that in my legacy. Any gym there is, I am in it working on my game.”
“I only had one thing on my mind tonight and that was Lynchburg. I am more disappointed about the loss than I am glad about getting the 1,000 points.
When play resumed, the Mustangs got a three-point play from 6’6” center A.J. Stroup, but again the Indians countered, this time with a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to just 38-36. The third quarter came to a close with another Lynchburg dagger, another long McLaughlin three in the final minute that sent the visitors to the final period with a five-point lead.
A basket by Arey, the start of a 15-point quarter for him, opened the fourth frame, but yet again the Mustangs had answers from long distance as threes from McLaughlin and Damin Pierson pushed the lead back to 47-40. Again, the Indians clawed back and an Arey three from deep in the corner brought his team within 49-45 with 5:22 to play. After a McLaughlin bucket for the Mustangs, Peebles got back to back buckets by Gordley and Stivers and suddenly it was back to a two-point game at 51-49.
To the dismay of Peebles fans, Gordley picked up his fifth foul with 2:37 remaining and the resulting Giordano free throws put Lynchburg up 55-50.
A jumper by Weston Browning pulled Peebles to with three and the Indians got numerous opportunities over the final few minutes, but just couldn’t seem to get that one basket that would put them over the hump. Giordano hit two more from the charity stripe, followed by Arey coming off a screen at the top of the key to drain a three to again cut the Mustang lead to a single basket at 57-55. Back to the free throw line went the visitors with McLaughlin sinking a pair, but Arey answered with a basket that kept the Lynchburg lead at just two. On the next Mustang possession, Giordano was called for an offensive foul, his fifth, and the Indians got the ball with the chance to tie or take the lead.
Arey got off a three-point attempt that was off the mark, the Mustangs rebounded, and Pierson was fouled with 19.9 seconds left. The sophomore guard calmly sank both shots, before Arey struck again with another three-pointer from the corner, making it 61-60, and Stroup was fouled with 13.1 remaining. The Lynchburg big man hit both shots to give his team a three-point lead and on the Peebles offensive end Arey misfired on a three-point attempt that could have tied the game. McClaughlin was fouled with 2.3 seconds to play, hit both fouls hots, and he and the Mustangs escaped with a 65-60 win, extending their lead over the Indians. in the SHAC big school division.
McLaughlin was again the big threat on offense for the Mustangs, who improved to 9-1 in conference play. The talented Lynchburg junior poured in 27 points, including five three-pointers, most of which were from NBA range. Giordano also hit double figures with 14 points, with Pierson adding 9.
The loss dropped the Indians to 11-5 on the year (6-3 SHAC) and they were led by Arey’s 22 points with Gordley adding 21 and Bostin Robinson 9.
Peebles will be back in SHAC action on Friday, Feb. 3 when they host county rival West Union. The two teams played back on Dec. 20 with the Indians taking an 85-76 win in overtime. The Tribe will be back on their home floor the next night in non-conference action, facing the Paint Valley Bearcats.
8 18 15 24 –65
7 13 16 24 –60
Lynchburg (65): Pierson 3 2-2 9, McLaughlin 9 4-4 27, Hilt 2 0-2 5, Giordano 5 4-7 14, Lampkin 2 0-0 5, Stroup 1 3-3 5, Team 22 13-18 65.
Peebles (60): Arey 8 3-5 22, Robinson 3 3-5 9, Parrett 0 0-1 0, Stivers 2 0-0 4, Browning 2 0-0 4, C. Gordley 8 4-4 21, Team 23 10-15 60.
Lynchburg (8): McLaughlin 5, Pierson 1, Hilt 1, Lampkin 1
Peebles (4): Arey 3, Gordley 1