Turnovers. Mental errors. Missed free throws. Poor shot selection. Missed defensive assignments. Failure to box out. The preceding are not mistakes you can make when playing a good team which is what the North Adams Lady Devils found out last Thursday as they played host to the Lynchburg Lady Mustangs in a much anticipated Southern Hills Athletic Conference match up between the regular season champions of the big and small school divisions of the conference.
Before a Feb. 4 packed house, the two girls’ squads battled with nothing actually on the line, except revenge in the minds of the Lady Devils, who remembered last season when it was Lynchburg who handed them their only conference defeat, thereby costing North Adams the coveted gold ball trophy for being unbeaten in the SHAC. Now, it was the Lady Mustangs looking to capture their own gold ball trophy as they came to Seaman with a perfect 12-0 conference mark and were looking to sew up an unbeaten conference slate.
The Lady Mustangs possess a wealth of young talent and it was on display in full force on Thursday night, as their dynamic trio of guards in freshman Peyton Scott and junior twins Hannah and McKayla Binkley stole the show, combining for 60 of their team’s points as Lynchburg accomplished their task and claimed the gold ball trophy and an undefeated SHAC campaign, topping the Lady Devils by a final score of 71-61.
In the early going of the first period, it looked like the Lady Devils had the upper hand as a 7-0 run capped by a Taylor Wylie three-pointer gave them a 7-1 lead. Very quickly, that lead vanished as the Lady Mustangs scored six straight to tie the game at the 4:36 mark.
A later Grace McDowell trey gave North Adams an 11-9 lead, but Lynchburg, aided by a Hannah Binkley three, closed the first quarter on a 9-2 run to grab an 18-13 advantage over the home team.
A bucket by Lynchburg’s Ali Little made it 20-13 to open the second stanza, before a basket on the inside by Avery Harper and a Lakyn Hupp three-pointer broke a North Adams scoring drought of nearly five minutes. A pair of Staci Dinsmore free throws pulled North Adams within 22-20 but the Lady Mustangs answered with six straight to go back up by eight and force North Adams head coach Rob Davis to burn a timeout.
The Lady Devils got a pair of McDowell free throws after the short break, but two costly turnovers led to baskets by Scott and Little to close the half with the Lady Mustangs on top 32-22.
When the second half began, the visitors took control for good, getting a 7-0 run fueled by a McKayla Binkey three-point play to open up a big 41-25 lead and it was “play catch up” for the home team for the rest of the night. Getting three-pointers from Scott and Hannah Binkley, the Lady Mustangs continued to build their margin, upping the lead to 51-32, before Dinsmore closed the third quarter with a personal 6-0 run to renew hope for the North Adams side, now down 51-38 headed to the final period.
A runner in the lane by Scott opened the fourth quarter and the two teams traded baskets back and forth, with the Lady Mustangs continuing to hold a lead of anywhere between 10-14 points. A basket by North Adams’ Madison Jenkins cut the deficit back to single digits at 60-51 with three minutes left, but Lynchburg, as they had all evening, had an answer, much to the chagrin of Coach Davis, getting two baskets on offensive rebounds off of missed free throws to go on top 65-53.
North Adams got five points in the final minute from Harper but by then, it was time for the Lady Mustangs to begin the celebration. The gold ball was heading to their trophy case as they closed out an impressive 71-61 win over the Lady Devils.
As most teams have found out this season, it is very difficult to slow down the Lynchburg fast-paced offense and in Thursday’s win, the three-guard combo led the way with Scott and McKayla Binkley each scoring 22 points, with Hannah Binkley adding 16. Senior Ali Little also hit double figures with 10 points as the Lady Mustangs ended their regular season with a 21-1 record, 13-0 in the SHAC, and a number one seed in the Southeast District Division III tournament.
North Adams was led by 22 points from Staci Dinsmore and 19 from Avery Harper in the loss to Lynchburg. To make matters worse, the Lady Devils came back on Saturday and fell to Wheelersburg 62-53 in the Tackett Auto Classic held at Ironton High School. With the two defeats, the North Adams girls finished their regular season at 16-5, 11-2 in the SHAC.
The Lady Devils are a number 2 seed in the Division III sectional tournament and will be in action on Saturday, Feb. 13 at Valley High School, facing the winner of the Peebles-Adena game.