LEPANTO -- In a game that saw 18 different lead changes, just in the second half, it was the fundamentals that decided the game between EPC and Manila Saturday afternoon. In the game, originally scheduled for Thursday but postponed due to the snowstorm that hit Northeast Arkansas, Manila hit free throws down the stretch to pick up a 60-56 win in double overtime. The Lady Lions jumped out to an early 15-5 lead, behind the play of Deborah White and Amanda Henson. The two combined for 12 of the team's early points and controlled the tempo of the game. However, EPC, playing the game on Senior Day gradually crept back into the game, trailing only 26-18 at halftime. In the game at Trumann a few weeks ago, EPC Head Coach Gary Williams kept his team in the locker room the entire halftime, only coming out of the locker room after directed by officials. The talk led EPC to pick up a victory against Trumann. In the game against Manila, Coach Williams did the same thing at halftime and the team clicked. The Sr. Warriors went on a 13-5 run to start the second half and trailed Manila 36-33 after three quarters. In the fourth quarter, both teams battled back and forth with the lead changing minute-by-minute. The quarter opened with EPC, hitting back-to-back free throws from Jessica Ross and Holly Hinton, which tied the game at 36 with 7:31 left in regulation. From there, Manila controlled the tempo, taking the lead for the next three and a half minutes. EPC again crept back into the game, by driving to the post on several occasions and forcing Manila fouls.
Four Manila players fouled out in regulation and EPC took advantage of the foul trouble by Manila. Late in the game, the game turned into a free throw shooting contest, with both teams going to the foul line four times in the last two minutes. With 2:27 left in regulation, Manila forward Marilou Perez hit two free throws, giving the Lions a 44-42 lead. One minute later, EPC senior guard Tia Hendrix hit a jumper from the right corner, tying the game at 44. After a missed field goal by Manila, EPC quickly called timeout to set up a final play with 18.7 seconds left. The Sr. Warriors then moved the basketball down the court and put the ball into the hands of Hendrix.
Hendrix then hit a lay-up with 2.9 seconds left, giving EPC its first lead of the day at 46-44. However, after the Hendrix basket, the officials held a conference at midcourt over where the clock should be set. After the conference, the officials agreed to add 2.1 seconds to the clock, moving the clock to 5.0 seconds. An official told Delta Life after the game that Manila Head Coach Codie Malloy attempted to call timeout with 5.0 seconds left.
With five seconds on the clock, Manila forward Amanda Henson threw the ball to halfcourt, where Marilou Perez was fouled by Jessica Ross as the horn sounded. The officials counted the foul on Ross and Perez went to the line to send the game into overtime. Perez hit both free throws, tying the game at 46 at the end of regulation. In the first overtime, EPC jumped out to a lead, with Holly Hinton and Myrtle Rand scoring in the first minute of the four-minute period. EPC had a 49-47 lead with 1:49 left, when Natalie Tippy scoring on a three-point play. On its next possession, EPC guard Holly Hinton drove inside to score a basket, giving EPC a 51-50 lead. With 51.6 seconds left, Perez hit two free throws, giving Manila a 52-51 lead. EPC again tied the game at 52, when Khristy Kline hit one of two free throws, sending the game into a second overtime. In the second overtime, both teams battled back and forth, with six different lead changes in a two minute period. However, Manila hit four free throws in the last minute to pick up the win.
After the game, EPC Head Coach Gary Williams told Delta Life that his team played hard and that he told his team that he wanted them to play hard, win, lose or draw. Williams added, "We did what we needed to be done to win and we are winners tonight." Manila Head Coach Codie Malloy told Delta Life that in spite of the double overtime game, free throws were the key. Malloy said, "We hit our free throws down the stretch." Malloy added that it appeared that her team got frustrated, as four Manila players fouled out in the game.
Malloy added, "I had four starters foul out and I had to use my bench. We are a good team and we have come a long way." EPC was led by Holly Hinton, who led all scorers with 23 points. Tia Hendrix scored seven points, while Marisa Holiman added six for the Warriors. Manila was led by Amanda Henson, who scored 16 points. Deborah White added 12 for the Lions.
EPC won the junior high game 44-24. The Jr. Warriors led throughout the game, leading 11-3 after one quarter, 20-8 at halftime and 26-13 after three quarters. Sade Madden led EPC and all scorers with 21 points, while Lauren Turner picked up 10 points on the night. Kari Ramirez led Manila with eight points, while Michelle Daniels added six points.