Manila beat the Cave City full court press early, and jumped out to a 13-1 lead. With 2:30 to go in the first, the Lions were up 20-4 and the tempo of the game began to slow down. Cave City hit two three-pointers at the end of the first period to bring the score to 22-12.
As the second quarter started, Cave City's idea to press looked much better. They were warmed up and playing well. The Lions, on the other hand, had lost a lot of their intensity when they saw they were ahead by 16. Aided by a batch of Manila turnovers, Cave City went on a run of its own; scoring 14 unanswered points.
The Lions stayed tough, fought off the Cave City surge and took a 32-28 lead into the locker room. Coach Anthony Brewington said, "We came out intense and then it dropped off after we got that big lead. I didn't call a timeout during the Cave City run because I don't want to teach these kids to look to the bench to get bailed out."
In the third, Cave City was still in their give and take full court press. One time down the Lions would beat the press easily and score; the next time the Lions might turn it over.
Coach Brewington remarked, "Any time you face a press, you're going to have some turnovers."
Cave City continued to come after the Lions in the third, but Manila always found a way to put up points and to stay in the lead. "I was really pleased with the way we held up after the runs they made at us," Coach Brewington said.
By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, Cave City was looking tired. They stuck with their full court pressure, but the Lions found it easier and easier to break. Midway through the period, the Lions had amassed a 17-point lead and had the victory firmly in hand.
When the final buzzer sounded, the Manila fans erupted. Their team had made short work of their semi-final opponent and was headed to the finals.
Josh McCullough led Manila with 14 points. Nathan Morries and Jacob Walker each had 13. Adam Donner had nine.
Jimmy Hodges led Cave City with 14.
Manila Boys Vs. Hughes
Manila Boys fall to Hughes in Finals of NEA
By Steve Brown Town Crier Sports Staff
Before a packed house, the senior boys from Manila took on Hughes, in the finals of the NEA, on Dec. 29. The final score would turn out to be 58-46, Hughes. The game was closer than that margin suggests. This contest was a showcase of outstanding defense. Each team held its opponent to only 39 percent shooting from the field.
Hughes got on the boards first with a three point shot. One of several they made that night. Uncharacteristically, Manila made only one three-pointer all game. "They played really tough defense, and they didn't help on the ball when the pass went inside. They really did a good job of pressuring the ball," said Coach Anthony Brewington.
Manila got early buckets by going to the paint. "Our game plan was to go inside early and get then in foul trouble," said Brewington. Also, the Lions scored two quick buckets off of the backdoor cut in the first. "That cut worked well for us at first, but they started bringing help across to stop it," said Brewington.
This was a tight ballgame in the first period, but in the second Hughes began to pull away. Hughes turned up the pressure on defense and Lions turned the ball over. Hughes went on a run, and Manila had trouble getting any points. Their sole offense came from a couple Nathan Morries jumpers. With three minutes to go in the second, Hughes had pulled away to lead 23-14.
Hughes hit another big three-pointer as the buzzer sounded to lead 30-19 at the half.
In the third quarter, the Lions still had trouble finding points. Even when they had good looks inside, they missed because they were expecting contact that wasn't there. Hughes kept the pressure on and held on to their 10-point lead.
With 15 seconds to go in the third, the Lions finally sank a three-point shot which gave the whole team a boost.
The Lions came out with new vigor in the fourth. They took the ball strong to the inside and got to the foul line. Had their shooting from the charity stripe been better, this would have been quite a different game. "We didn't shoot the ball well at all from the free throw line. We finished at 56 percent," said Brewington.
With 4:28 to go, Manila had closed the gap to 46-39. "We had our chances. We pulled within seven and missed three scoring opportunities," remarked Brewington.
As a last effort, Manila tried to press Hughes, but it didn't work. Hughes wisely held on to the ball and the nine-point lead. They sank their free throws, and ensured the victory.
"I was pleased with the way our team got better and better as the tournament went on," said Brewington.
Nathan Morries led the Lions with 13. Jacob Walker added 12 points.
Jermaine Davis led Hughes with 16.
Riverside Boys Vs. Brookland
The Riverside senior boys played Brookland Jan. 4. The final score was 64-46 Brookland. Maybe suffering from a little post-holiday stiffness, neither team looked really sharp. Riverside came out in the full court press, and Brookland got a lot of points all night by breaking it.
The Rebels gave Brookland no second chance points in the first half. The Rebels had a slow offensive start, but came on in the second period. They still trailed by six at the half.
In the second half, the Rebels still had trouble getting their shots to fall, but they hung in and played defense. They forced Brookland to commit a lot of turnovers, and closed the gap to 26-25.
No sooner had the Rebels pulled to within one, did Brookland score seven unanswered points.
"They were just more physical than us. They out-rebounded us 42-22. We were really flat," said Coach Buster Campbell.
Brookland held a 10-point lead through the third. The final period was uneventful as Brookland held on for the win.
Matt Owens led the Rebels with 14 points. Jacob Couch scored 12.
Eric Stonecipher led Brookland with 19.
Rive Jr. High Boys Vs. Brookland
The Jr. Rebels jumped out to a big lead on Brookland and never let them back in it. The final was 42-26, Riverside. "Our press hurt them, and we got a lot of points off turnovers," said Coach Campbell.
Zach Ridge and Tyler Timms had 10 apiece for the Rebels.
Guest led Brookland with nine.
Riverside Girls Vs. Bay
The Senior Girls from Riverside had a real battle in Lake City Jan. 3. From a contest in which the score differed by no more than one point at the end of each quarter, the Lady Rebels emerged victorious in overtime. The final was 60-51.
"Neither team shot particularly well through the first three periods," said Coach Greg Rainwater. "We had some girls really step up for us. We had a rule that Melody Ward would touch the ball before anyone shot it and it paid off."
The Rebels' Melody Ward led all scores with 23 points. She also pulled down 10 boards and scored 11 points in the fourth quarter.
Keryn Douglas gave the Rebels 13 points, and Amy Barrett had 10 rebounds.
Miranda Stephens and Amanda Dunnigan stood out in the overtime period; Dunnigan scored 6 of the Rebels 10 points in OT.
Jessica Moreno led Bay with 18 points.
Riverside Jr. Girls vs. Bay
The Junior Girls from Riverside fell to Bay, 46-15. "We started well but couldn't handle their press. Bay is a good team they only have a couple of losses. Lots of teams have had trouble with their press," said Coach Rainwater.
Amanda Milligan, Jae Ashabranner, and Ashley Foster each scored four points for the Rebels.
Jessica McMasters led Bay with 11 points.