Manila's "Little General" Cody Wells hit 7-8 free throws in the fourth quarter as the Lions squeaked past Rivercrest 48-46 in the opening round of the Northeast Arkansas Invitational Tournament Thursday night at the Convocation Center.
Trailing 37-34 entering the final quarter, Wells took the game into his own hands by hitting two free shots to pull the Lions to within one. Moments later, Wells drove the lane, threw in a running bank shot and was fouled with 6:07 to play. Wells completed the three point play by sinking his free throw and the Lions were on top for good, 39-37.
Wells sank two more charity tosses at the 5:13 mark to push the Manila lead to four before Rivercrest scored their first two points of the final quarter, making the score 41-39 with 4:28 left. Jackey Parker, who finished the night with 11 points, hit a shot from inside the paint to give Manila a 43-39 lead and following a Colt basket, Lion Dustin Hobeck scored from the inside to make the score 45-41 with 2:55 left.
Marlon Tramble, who led Rivercrest with 14 points, hit a long trey to bring the Colts to within 45-44 with 2:38 to go. Wells then sank two more free throws at the 1:34 mark to push Manila's lead back to 47-44. Maurice Gordon tipped in a missed Colt shot to make it a one point game, 47-46 with 1:22 remaining.
Rivercrest got the ball back after a Manila turnover, but the Lions, who had only two fouls, were able to run over a minute off the clock by intentionally fouling, preventing the Colts from getting any looks at the basket. The Colts finally put up a shot at the :20 mark, but Manila grabbed the rebound and Brumley went to the line with 15.7 seconds left, hitting 1-2 to give the Lions the 48-46 lead.
Rivercrest had one last chance to tie or win the game, but Charles Harris' baseline jumper from 12 feet clanked off the rim and the Lions advanced to the quarter-finals where they will face second seeded Jonesboro December 27 at 6:00.
P.J. Brumley, who kept Manila in the game with three treys in the third quarter, also finished in double figures for the Lions with 13 points.
"I am real proud of the kids," said Manila Coach Jeral Hudspeth. "We started off a little sluggish. I didn't think we had the zip. But from the second quarter on, the kids got in the groove. Rivercrest is very athletic. You can't let them have a lot around the basket. P.J. Brumley and Jackey Parker really stepped up. The little general, Cody Wells, really makes us go. We just had a great game. Austin Metheny and Dustin Hobeck came off the bench and did a super job. It was a team effort. We have the state wide AAAAA team Jonesboro next, but I am real proud of our guys and proud for them. There is nothing better than the NEA Tournament and getting a quality win over a team like Rivercrest. It will be a good Christmas present for me."