Mustangs ride past Potters, 72-68, in OT

EAST LIVERPOOL – The Potters caught the Mustangs.

Unfortunately, East Liverpool was unable to come away with the victory.

The Claymont boys’ basketball team scored the first six points of overtime, and the Mustangs were able to hold off a second late charge by the Potters en route to a 72-68 victory over East Liverpool Tuesday night at Potter Fieldhouse on Senior Night.

With the loss, the Potters drop to 4-12.

East Liverpool may have lost the game, but the Potters gained some respect for the way they battled until the very end.

“They fought hard,” East Liverpool head coach Nate Conley said. “Even though we lost, they played hard. That team definitely respects them. It was a tremendous game.

“I want to give a shot out to Derek Thompson. He played one heck of a game. Also, Austin Emmerling played very well. He had a double-double.

“Dating back to the Lincoln Park game last year, that was one of the better games of the last three years. The kids definitely earned respect tonight.”

The Mustangs used a balanced attack to come away with the victory. Four players scored in double digits to lead the way for Claymont.

Individually, Dylan Sterling netted a game-high 22 points to lead the way. Also, Blake Albaugh tallied 18 points, Tyler Peterson collected 13 points and Taylor Wise recorded 10 points.

Four players also scored in double digits for the Potters.

Thompson ended up with a team-high 19 points to lead the way. Also, Kade Reynolds delivered 13 points, Emmerling ended up with 12 points and D.J. Austin netted 11 points.

Finally, Hayden Cunningham contributed seven points, and Aaron Long collected six points.

Thompson, East Liverpool’s lone senior, began the night being honored, and he ended it by stealing the show. Thompson scored six points in the final 4.2 seconds over regulation to send the game into overtime.

The Mustangs outscored the Potters, 19-4, in the second stanza to take a 33-21 lead at halftime. The Potters spent the entire second half eliminating their deficit, but it certainly was not easy.

A 6-0 run by Claymont put the visitors up 47-30 in the third quarter, and a 3-pointer by Peterson put the Mustangs up 50-34 with 51.8 seconds left in the third. Claymont led 50-36 entering the fourth quarter.

The Potters started the fourth quarter on a 6-0 spurt to cut the deficit to eight points at 50-42. It was the first time the Potters deficit was less than 10 points in the second half.

After another 3-pointer by Peterson, the Potters countered with a 7-0 spurt to pull within 53-49 with 4:54 left to play in regulation. Later, three foul shots – one by Thompson and two by Emmerling – pulled the hosts to within 55-52 with 2:19 left to play.

Then, a 3-pointer by Cunningham pulled the Potters to within 57-55 with 1:38 showing on the clock.

The Mustangs regained the momentum with four-straight points to take a 61-55 lead with 43.4 seconds remaining.

The rest of regulation belonged to Thompson and the Potters. Thompson ended up scoring his team’s final eight points of the fourth quarter.

First, he scored to make it 61-57. Then, he completed a three-point play with 4.2 seconds showing on the clock to make the score 61-60, though things didn’t go as planned.

“Actually, he was supposed to miss that foul shot,” Conley said. “We wanted him to miss it so we could try and tap it back out. Next time, I might tell him to make it.”

A quick foul with 3.1 seconds left sent the Mustangs to the charity stripe. Sterling stepped to the free-throw line, and he calmly sank both foul shots, but the Potters still one final chance.

They made the most of it.

Thompson was on the receiving end of a long-inbound pass, however, he was unable to properly set his feet, and he drifted toward the sideline. As time ticked off the clock. Thompson got off a fadeaway-desperation 3-pointer that found its way into the net to tie the score at 63 sending the game into overtime.

“The play was designed for him to catch the pass, but he wasn’t supposed to shoot it,” Conley said. “He was supposed to catch it out and pas it out. It was the old Valparaiso play. He got the ball, and he was drifting toward the side. He threw it up, and it went in. It was a heck of a shot.

“Derek is a gamer. I am proud of him. He came back out this year. He has proved everybody wrong. He is a great teammate. I love coaching kid. He is our only senior. He wanted to make Senior Night special. We just fell short at the end.”

Albaugh scored the first four points of overtime to make the score 67-63 with 1:02 left to play in the game, and Sterling netted two more shots from the free-throw line putting the visitors up 69-63.

Two foul shots by Reynolds pulled the Potters to within 69-65 with 38.2 seconds left. Later, Thompson drained his second 3-pointer of the night to pull East Liverpool to within 70-68, but that was as close as the Potters got.

Sterling sank two foul shots to put the Mustangs up four with 16.7 seconds showing on the clock.

East Liverpool led 17-14 after the first quarter.

Like the varsity game, the JV game went into overtime. This time, the result was reversed. East Liverpool won the game, 40-37. Zack Adkins delivered 13 points for the Potters, and Austin Bock contributed 13 points for the Mustangs.

East Liverpool’s next game is Friday night at home against local-rival Oak Glen. East Liverpool will be going for the season sweep as the Potters defeated the Golden Bears earlier in the season at the Oak Glen Fieldhouse.

“We know they are going to come to play,” Conley said. “They play tough. It is going to be a tough game. We are going to have to prepare for the game like we prepared for Claymont.”