By Lisa Byers
The District 10 basketball playoffs aren’t scheduled to begin for another week.
But for the General McLane boys basketball team, the playoffs began on Tuesday. And in playoff-type situations, the stars usually come up pretty big. As was the case last night at General McLane High School.
In need of a win to lock up at least a share of the Region 6 championship, senior Jaymon Mason did what he does best. The point guard electrified the home crowd on senior night, scoring 42 points to lead McLane to a crucial 68-59 win over Strong Vincent.
With the win, the Lancers locked up at least a share of the Region 6 title, improving to 17-4 overall and 12-1 in Region 6. They remain one game ahead of Girard in the standings. General McLane travels to Girard to close out the regular season on Friday.
Mason’s 42 points was just one off of the school record, which he set on Jan. 2 in a win over McDowell. And none of those points were bigger than the 14 he scored in the fourth quarter against a pesky Strong Vincent squad.
General McLane went into the game needing a win to guarantee at least a share of the region title. Strong Vincent went into the contest looking to improve its case for a District 10 Class AAA playoff spot.
The result was a physical contest filled with highs and lows for both squads. Fortunately for the Lancers, there were a few more highs at the end.
“I couldn’t believe some of the shots (Strong Vincent was) making,” General McLane coach Andy Schulz said. “But our kids hung in there. We made our foul shots and grinded it out.”
General McLane missed just one free throw all night. That attempt came from Quinn Thompson midway through the first quarter. The Lancers made 25 straight after, including a perfect 16 of 16 effort in the fourth quarter. Mason was 8 of 8 in the quarter.
Strong Vincent trailed by 10 (46-36) with 18 seconds to play in the first quarter. But Brandon Coleman knocked down a 3-pointer at the buzzer to pull the Colonels to within five (46-39) and ignite a 8-0 run.
Coleman capped the run with another 3-pointer that brought Strong Vincent to within two (46-44) with 6:49 to play in the game.
McLane’s effort at the line, though, kept the Colonels at bay.
“It was a great win,” Schulz said. “We won the region (last night) … at least a share of it. That’s a great feeling for these kids, who worked hard to get there.”
It also prepares the Lancers for the next step, Friday night’s game at Girard, and then the postseason.
“This was like a playoff game,” Schulz said. “Every game you have to try to win. You just battle hard. Winning (last night) does give us a share of the region title and then whatever happens after that we’ll work hard at it. But at least this is something they can’t take away from you.”
Thompson also finished in double figures for the Lancers (17-4, 12-1 Region 6) with 17 points. He also had 13 rebounds. Mason’s 42 points included a 16 of 16 stint from the line and four 3-pointers.
Coleman finished with 16 points for Strong Vincent (11-10, 9-4). Malquan Pullium had 13 points and Demarcus Cleckley had 12.