By Mark Carpenter
After the long trek to the gymnasium at Fairfield High School on Feb. 12, it was the 8th grade boys team of Peebles facing off with the Lynchburg Mustangs in the championship game of the 2014 Southern Hills Athletic Conference Tournament. The Indians came into the title game with a sterling 13-4 record, but it was the Mustangs who came out of the evening as the tourney champs, holding off a late Peebles rally for a 42-39 victory.
The Mustangs got off to a big jump start in the first quarter of the finale, getting three-point goals from Austin Hilt and Eric McLaughlin on their way to a quick 10-2 advantage. Peebles got a basket from Conner Browning with 50 seconds left in the quarter, but the Mustangs answered with another trey, this one from Ethan Garrison and the first period closed with Lynchburg holding a 13-4 lead.
Peebles got the second stanza off to a good beginning as Browning hit a three-pointer but the Mustangs quickly responded with two baskets off of Indian turnovers to extend the margin to 17-7. Tanner Arey scored for Peebles at the 4:45 mark but those were the last Indian points for over four minutes. Luckily, the Peebles defense was stalwart during that time, only allowing two Mustang scores, but the boys in red still trailed 21-9 when finally, a steal and layup by Bostin Robinson resulted in a three-point play with 19 seconds left in the half. The rally continued when Wade Shiveley banked in a long three at the buzzer and the momentum seemed to have swung a bit as the Indians went to the intermission down now just 21-15.
As the second half began, it looked as if the Indians were prepared to make the big move to the lead when Browning and Arey both scored on hustle plays resulting in offensive rebounds and stick backs, cutting the Lynchburg lead to two. The Mustangs got a basket from McLaughlin, but that just set the stage for a basket by Robinson and a three-point play by Arey that gave the Indians their first lead of the night at 24-23.
The back and forth action on the scoreboard continued as the Mustangs answered back with a bucket by Hilt and then the extremely rare four-point play from McLaughlin to retake the lead at 29-24. Robinson nailed a “3” for the Indians with 20 seconds left in the third but the Peebles defense relaxed and allowed Garrison to get loose for a score in the final seconds that send Lynchburg to the final period nursing a 31-27 advantage.
When the fourth quarter began with a basket by Hilt and another McLaughlin three, it looked like the Mustangs might be able to take control for good, but a three-pointer by Peebles’ Robinson kept his team within striking distance at 37-32 with just over two minutes to play.
That Robinson trey was followed by a Lynchburg basket to give them a seven-point margin with just 1:13 left, seemingly safe, but the Indians had one last attack in them. Robinson scored with 36 seconds left, followed by Arey with 13 ticks left, and when Caleb West stole the Mustang inbounds pass, scored, was fouled and hit the free throw, the Indians had scored seven points in 26 seconds and the game was tied at 39 apiece.
After West hit the tying foul shot, the Mustangs threw the ball in quickly to Garrison and he raced the length of the floor only to be fouled with 6.5 seconds to play. Garrison calmly stepped to the line and sank both foul shots to put his team up two and when the inbounds pass by the Indians was intercepted and Hilt was fouled with 4.3 seconds to go, it looked bad for the Indians.
Hilt hit the second of two free throws to make it 42-39, giving the Indians one more chance. Arey got the ball and drove towards the basket on the left side, skipping the potential game-tying three to try to force an old-fashioned three, but his shot was off the mark, no fouls were whistled, and the Mustangs could finally catch their collective breath and celebrate a tournament championship.
The Indians, who finish their season at 13-5, were led in scoring by two players in double figures, Bostin Robinson with 15 and Tanner Arey with 11. Conner Browning added 7 points for Peebles. Lynchburg was paced by 16 points from Eric McLaughlin, 13 from Ethan Garrison, and 10 from Austin Hilt.
Mark Carpenter can be reached at 937-544-2391 or on Twitter @adamscosports.
4 11 12 12 -39
13 8 10 11 —42
Peebles (39): Shiveley 1 0-0 3, Browning 3 0-0 7, Arey 5 1-3 11, Robinson 6 1-3 15, West 1 1-3 3, Tetam 16 3-9 39.
Lynchburg (42): Hilt 4 1-3 10, Garrison 5 2-2 13, Walker 1 1-2 3, McLaughlin 6 1-2 16, Team 16 5-9 42.
Three-Point Goals: Peebles- Shiveley 1, Browning 1, Robinson 2
Lynchburg- Hilt 1, Garrison 1, McLaughlin 3