by JOHN HOWLEY / sportingpumpkin.com
Amanda-Clearcreek had to hold off a late charge from visiting Westfall to notch its first win of the young season 56-54 Tuesday night.
That ability to hold off the Mustangs came from facing adversity in AC’s first two games, senior and lone returning starter Lane Stevens said.
“Against Granville a couple weeks ago we just got destroyed and we came together and decided we were going to have to start working harder. Then against Bloom, I think we outworked them, it just got away from us there in the third quarter,” he said. “Tonight, we just stayed together. We did a good job of coming together and staying calm and not blaming anyone for anything.
“We stayed together, stayed strong and kept that brotherhood alive.”
Holding a three-point lead at halftime, the Aces (1-2) outscored the Mustangs 16-5 through the first seven minutes of the third quarter before Westfall’s Luke Blackburn scored four points to make it a 10-point game heading into the fourth.
Baskets from Tayvon Miller and Cade Young had the Aces back up 14 a little over a minute into the fourth before the Mustangs made their comeback.
Blaec Bugher and Casey Cline got the run started with three-pointers. Bugher added two more buckets, Cline hit a free throw and Blackburn hit a free throw as Westfall scored 12 straight points in less than three minutes to close to 47-45.
Clayton Rhyne ended AC’s scoring drought with a baseline drive. The game stayed tight with the Aces never getting their lead above five but the Mustangs were able to get no closer than two as the clock worked its way to zeroes.
“Of all the teams I’ve coached this is the group that’s probably showed the most calmness,” AC coach Jamie Justus said. “We’re pretty proud of the effort tonight, the intensity, the enthusiasm, the team leadership and the grit we showed tonight.
“I thought we came out in the second half and made a nice run there, we were more patient on offense and got better looks. In the first half we were rushing things a little bit,” Justus said. “Westfall is a very gritty team and they got after it and pressured us and we had some costly turnovers there in the fourth quarter when they clawed back and it was a two-point game.”
“Our kids, at the start of the fourth quarter, started playing the way we wanted them to play from the beginning,” Westfall coach Christian Meister said. “We played into their hands in the first three quarters with how strong they are.
“I’m really proud of the way our kids showed grit. With one upperclassman on the team, they could easily have given up. But they didn’t. They continued to play hard and they never quit.”
The game got off to a slow start and the Aces had a 10-5 lead after the first quarter.
The pace picked up in the second as the teams combined for four three-pointers in the first 75 seconds with two coming from Westfall’s Cline and AC getting buckets from Drew Evans and Nate Hunter.
Westfall drew three charges in the second quarter as the Mustangs briefly took the lead when Brody Clark hit a three and then Blackburn added a free throw to make the score 24-21 with 2:26 left in the half. The Aces scored the final six points to lead 27-24 at the break.
Miller finished the night as the game’s leading scorer putting in 16 for the Aces. Stevens was next with nine.
Three Mustangs hit double figures led by Blackburn with 14, Bugher with 11 and Cline with 10.
AC was in control most of the night when it came to rebounding with a 35-19 edge led by Peyton Cassley with nine, Miller with six and Stevens with five.
“Peyton Cassley does a fantastic job rebounding and Cade Young did a fantastic job tonight on their big guy, Blackburn, he’s a heck of a player,” Justus said.
Blackburn was limited to five rebounds for the Mustangs.
Westfall did force the Aces into 23 turnovers.
“We’ve got to clean up the ball handling,” Justus said. “We work on that every day in practice, but we’ve got to continue to work on that.”
Both teams have inexperienced squads and are looking to build off the high points of Tuesday’s performance.
The Aces graduated four starters from last season’s squad with Stevens the only one back and Cassley is the only other one with significant varsity minutes
“Other than that, going into Granville, we had four guys getting their first varsity starts,” Justus said. “This will go a long way confidence wise for those young guys. Hopefully we can build on this and take it into Friday.”
“My kids, they’re young, but we’re not using that as an excuse because I believe my young kids can play,” Meister said. “I had some kids their first-ever varsity game today was a start, it’s not a come off the bench and play a role, you’re first-ever game you’re getting thrown right into the fire. I’m really proud of the way the kids responded, and we will only get better as the season goes on.
“We’re a team predicated on pressuring the basketball. We weren’t good enough for three quarters pressuring the basketball. We build on that fourth quarter of pressuring the basketball, getting in passing lanes, getting out and running, scoring and fast breaks. As our kids get more experience, they’ll get more comfortable and they’ll hit some shots and we can build upon that fourth quarter.”
The Aces will be home again Friday when Logan Elm comes in for a Mid-State League Buckeye Division matchup.
Westfall is on the road again with a Scioto Valley Conference game against Piketon on the schedule for Friday.
Jerry Layton pumped in 22 to lead Westfall over Amanda-Clearcreek 36-19 in the JV game.
Henry Barnes had seven for the Mustangs, Nate Johnston had three and Brady Mullins and Jordan Grady each had two.
Taylon Conrad led the Aces with 10 points, Owen Sahr had four, Blayne Barker had three and Logan Hite had two.
Amanda-Clearcreek 56, Westfall 54
Westfall — Casey Cline 5-0-10, Blaec Bugher 4-2-11, Trevor Wolfe 1-0-2, Austin Nunemaker 0-4-4, Tyler Shipley 2-1-5, Brody Clark 1-0-3, Luke Blackburn 3-8-14. Three-point goals — Cline (3), Bugher (3), Clark Total — 16-49 15-20 54.
Amanda-Clearcreek — Clayton Rhyne 3-0-7, Brody Pugh 2-0-4, Tayvon Miller 7-0-16, Nate Hunter 2-0-5, Peyton Cassley 1-0-2, Cade Young 3-2-8, Lane Stevens 3-2-9, Drew Evans 1-2-5. Three-point goals — Rhyne, Miller (2), Hunter, Stevens. Total — 22-41 6-8 56.
Quarter scores 1 2 3 4 F
Westfall 5 19 9 21 54
Am-Clearcreek 10 17 16 13 56