By Jim Hunter
Special to The Meadville Tribune
For just the second time in the last 12 years General McLane lost in the opening round of the District 10 Class AAA playoffs.
Unable to get into the flow offensively, the Lancers — a notorious power in the playoffs — found themselves in unchartered waters as their season came to an end with a 44-37 loss to Oil City on Thursday at the House of Thrills.
General McLane finished with a 15-8 record.
“Obviously, this loss hurts,” said GM first-year coach Brian Schulz, who replaced his legendary father Andy Schulz this season. “I told the players that I love them afterwards and I look forward to next season.”
After controlling the first quarter (10-5 lead), Schulz started seeing the game slip away in the second quarter.
Trailing 16-10, Oil City reeled off six straight points to get even with the Lancers, and then Andrew Williams bombed in a 3-pointer with 1:07 showing on the clock to give the Oilers a 19-18 halftime lead.
General McLane shot 4-for-13 in the second stanza.
Schulz’s explanation for the Lancers’ slippage: “For some reason, we got stagnant in that period. We got out of sync and got into some foul trouble. We also missed some open shots. But, give Oil City credit. Their senior leadership took over.”
General McLane would bounce back, right? Not this time.
The Lancers’ shooting woes continued in the third quarter and Oil City’s slow-down pace frustrated Schulz’s squad. GM only shot 2-for-8 from the floor and Oil City’s inside force Logan Way scored five points as the Oilers increased their lead to 30-21 with :04 left in the third quarter.
General McLane’s senior point guard Lukas Hallet then gave the Lancers a spark by hitting a running 10-foot bank shot right before the third-quarter horn sounded.
Riding Hallet’s emotional shot, GM closed to within 30-27 with 7:12 remaining in the game as freshman Alex Jay bombed in a 3-pointer and Hallet sank one free throw.
A memorable comeback in the works for Schulz & Co.? Nope.
Taking control of the game, the lightning-quick Williams scored six straight points to push the Oilers’ lead to 36-27 with 4:17 left in the game.
Still showing some fight, the Lancers’ Hallet connected on a trey to close the gap to 36-32. But once again, Oil City answered as Way completed a three-point play to give the Oilers a 39-32 lead with 1:57 left in the game.
McLane’s season was unexpectedly over.
The promising Jay — coming off the bench — paced the Lancers with 10 points.
Way led Oil City with 17 points and Williams and Devon Geib each scored 11.