Town Crier Sports Staff
Manila continued their early season string of surprise victories, winning a 58-56 thriller over Buffalo Island Central Friday night at Manila, setting off a raucous celebration by the Lions and their fans.
Just a week after knocking off Riverside, the Lions used a strong fourth quarter to break a 43-43 third quarter tie, improving their record to 4-1 on the young season.
With the score tied 49-49, Hunter Veach stole an errant Mustang pass and fed Ross Malloy for the go ahead lay-up to give the Lions the lead for good at 51-49 with 3:26 left in the game. Veach hit a long three pointer on Manila's next possession to push the Lion lead to 54-49 with 2:46 to go.
The Mustangs came back when Garrett Qualls, who led all scorers with 24 points, hit a trey with 2:00 remaining to pull BIC to within 54-52. Manila extended their lead to 58-52 on a bucket by Malloy and a pair of free throws by Dustin Hobeck with 1:10 left.
Qualls again answered with another long three pointer to make the score 58-55 at the 48 second mark. The Mustangs were forced to foul on the Lions' next possession, but caught a break when Trey McCormick missed the front end of a one and one. Qualls launched a three pointer for the tie, but the ball bounced off the rim and Malloy grabbed the rebound for Manila and was fouled. The 6'2" junior misfired on the front end of a one and one with 29.9 seconds left, giving BIC a chance to tie the game.
Manila tightened their defense, making it hard for the Mustangs to get a shot, and finally forced a loose ball which resulted in a jump ball call at the four second mark. The arrow pointed BIC's way, giving the Mustangs one last chance. But after a time out, Manila elected to foul Qualls before he could get a shot away, sending the 6'1" senior to the foul line. Qualls connected on the first, then deliberately missed the second in an effort to get the rebound for a game tying or winning basket. But the Lions grabbed the rebound as the clock ran out, sending the Manila faithful into a frenzy.
Manila jumped to a 16-14 first period lead but watched the Mustangs rally in the second period to take a 29-26 lead at the half, thanks to a Qualls three pointer with 7.7 seconds left before intermission. BIC stretched their lead to 31-26 to start the third quarter, but Manila rallied to even the score at 43-43 entering the final quarter.
Manila placed three players in double figures led by Malloy's 14 points. Veach finished with 13 while McCormick added 10. Senior Devin Wright scored eight, while Hobeck added seven and Austin Metheney netted six. Manila was 17-22 from the foul line and hit four three pointers on the night.
Joining Qualls in double figures for the Mustangs was Terry Roach with 14 points. Jordan Phillips scored nine while Trevor Matheny added three. Lance Davis, who was plagued with foul trouble, scored two, as did Shane Barnes and Nick Birdno. The Mustangs struggled from the line, hitting just 20-32, and shot only 6-24 from beyond the three point arc.
"My technical foul hurt us tremendously," BIC Head Coach Bill Taylor said. "It was ridiculous to get a foul for what I said. That hurt my team. There's no question that was a momentum changer. It was a key point of the game. I accept responsibility for that and I told my guys that was my fault. The 6-24 from the three point line is unacceptable. We have good shooters. There were just too many times we would settle for the first open shot instead of making the extra passes. In the first half we had some decent looks but with another pass could have had some great looks. We have to get better at sharing the ball. Jordan Phillips is playing on a bad ankle and it's getting worse. I appreciate his effort for trying. We just have to get better. We can't just score 56 points. We only gave up 58 which is alright, but we will okay. I just thought we shot poorly tonight. We have to get better at the end of games. Even though we have a lot of juniors and seniors playing, we are still very inexperienced. I never like to lose, but I still like my team and I think we are going to be okay. Manila has a good club. They play hard. We had chances to win. We just didn't make the plays."
"I was really proud," Manila Coach Jeral Hudspeth said. "I thought early we were mentally out of control and were playing at too fast a pace. We were headed for a game in the seventies, and I told our guys there was no way we were going to win that type game. The second half we set the tempo and dictated the pace of the game. We changed our defense to a 3-2 zone, and I thought our kids executed that great. The bottom line is our boys really hung on. They have been a fourth quarter team. Against Riverside and BIC both, we have hit some big shots. I still think we have got to get a little bit smoother to be where we want to be, but I have never coached a team with any more character than this bunch. They believe in one another and they are a total team. I thought a big key was we out-rebounded BIC tonight. I am just extremely proud. It was a great win."
In the junior high contest, BIC rolled to a 42-17 victory led by Cody Smith, who poured in a game high 20 points. Matt Taylor scored eight while Brandon Atkeison chipped in six. Heath Hawkins and Dominick Marquez netted three points apiece while Jeremy Smith added two. BIC finished 7-12 from the foul line and hit five three pointers on the night.
Manila was led by Cody Webb who scored five points while Hunter Brown had four. Blake Wheeler netted three while Stetson Ausbrooks and Garrett Scott scored two points apiece. Tim Augustine added one point for the Lions, who finished 5-14 as a team from the foul line and hit two three pointers.
BIC led 11-6 after the first quarter and 13-7 at the half. The Mustangs blew the game open, outscoring Manila 19-2 in the third period, to take a 32-9 lead into the fourth quarter.
Manila will return to action Tuesday night when they travel to Armorel to face the Tigers. The Lions will come home Friday night to host the Marmaduke Greyhounds.
BIC will return to action Friday night when they open conference play against Crowley's Ridge Academy at Paragould.