Town Crier Sports Staff
For the second time in two weeks, Manila's Lady Lions jumped to an early lead over Buffalo Island Central, but just as in the first meeting, the Lady Mustangs turned the game around at the free throw line to hand Manila a 51-44 defeat Monday night at the Monette Athletic Complex.
The Lady Mustangs hit 12-14 free throws in the decisive fourth quarter, including a nine for nine performance from junior Jessica Shepard, who scored a game high 21 points. Shepard made all 11 of her free throw attempts in the contest as BIC connected on 18-23 as a team. Manila on the other hand, struggled at the foul line, hitting just 6-15 attempts while shooting a miserable 28 percent from the field.
"We shot only 28 percent from the floor, 40 percent from the foul line and committed 16 turnovers," frustrated Manila Head Coach Codie Malloy said. "I don't know what our deal is. We just didn't come focused tonight. I don't know what to say right now."
Manila got off to a fast start, taking a 13-11 lead after the first quarter, thanks to seven BIC turnovers and a pair of treys from junior guard Michelle Daniel. Daniel's second three of the quarter gave the Lady Lions their biggest lead of the night, 13-8, but BIC's Kasey Garrett answered with a three of her own to pull the Lady Mustangs to within two entering the second period.
Garrett's trey seemed to ignite the Lady Mustangs as they opened the second quarter with a 12-1 run, grabbing a 23-14 lead when Shepard nailed a long three pointer at the 5:14 mark. Both teams had problems finding the bucket, and the half ended with BIC up by seven, 26-19.
Sammi Fowler opened the second half with a nice move under the bucket to put BIC up 28-19. But the Lady Lions caught fire when freshman guard Kimberly Wise hit a trey, followed by a fade away 10-foot jumper from senior post Katie Veach. A Wise free throw and a lay-up by Rebekah White pulled Manila to within 28-27. Colleen Kemp picked off an errant Mustang pass and drove the length of the floor to give Manila their last lead of the game, 29-28, with 4:09 left in the third period. Again, both teams went cold from the field, but the Lady Mustangs regained the lead when Fowler made a steal and a lay-up, followed by a Chelsie Nix free throw to give BIC a 31-29 lead entering the final quarter.
BIC clung to a two point lead until Fowler stuck in a missed shot, giving BIC a 37-33 lead with 5:34 left in the game. BIC's lead went back and forth from four to six points until Wise drilled a trey at the 1:37 mark to pull Manila to within three, 42-39. But the Lady Mustangs drained nine of ten free throws in the last 1:09 to salt the game away.
Shepard was joined in double figures for BIC by Fowler, who scored 16 points and also had a perfect night at the free throw line going four for four. Garrett finished with seven points, Nix scored three, while Ashley Tate and Tiffany Parker netted two points apiece for the Lady Mustangs, who improved to 3-1 on the season.
Manila, now 2-2 on the season, was lead by Veach's double-double of 16 points and 15 rebounds. Wise finished with nine points, Daniel and Kemp tallied seven points each, White scored four, while Rocio Bedolla contributed one point.
"We had some steals and some second chance opportunities," Malloy said. "It's just frustrating when you have players who are athletic and who can contend but who just don't seem to be focused. Our intensity level needs to go up at the end of the game. We need to step up and transfer our energy into being at the right place at the right time. Hopefully we can bounce back in our next game against Weiner."
"Manila has a good team," BIC Coach Stan Fowler said. "They know how to penetrate and they hit some perimeter shots that hurt us late in the game. They do a lot of things right and they put a lot of effort into it. We gave them way too many second and third shots, especially in the first half. Manila was with us the whole game. There was no relaxing in tonight's game. But I am really impressed with the free throw shooters I have. When you foul Jessica (Shepard), she's pretty well automatic from the free throw line. We handled the pressure well late, and it's a new delay game we have installed, so it's new for us."
In junior high action, Manila rolled to a 38-21 victory as Savannah Jones scored 11 points while Maegan Presson added 10. Brittany Craine netted eight points, Jonna Dodd had four, Brittany Bennett tallied two, while Katie Donner, Kristen Painter and Mary Beth Ek all had one point apiece.
BIC was led by Ashley Jines with five points while Shelby Qualls added four. Whitley Roland, Jamie Harris, Kalee James, Karla Marroquin, Rhonda Garrett, and Ashley Woods all contributed two points apiece.
Manila led 9-4 after the first quarter and 25-8 at halftime. The Lady Lions took a 33-10 lead into the final quarter.
BIC versus Marmaduke
On Thursday night, Buffalo Island Central traveled to Marmaduke, and despite placing four players in double figures, dropped a heartbreaking 65-64 decision to the Lady Greyhounds.
Lindsey Hickson sank two of three free throws with six seconds remaining to keep Marmaduke undefeated at 6-0. Hickson poured in a game high 29 points,including seven three pointers, while Jade Brinkley added 23 more.
BIC was led by Sammi Fowler, who scored 20 points while Lauryn Smith added 15 more. Jessica Shepard netted 14 points while Ashley Tate tallied 10.
Marmaduke also won the junior high contest 58-37.
Manila VS Weiner
Also on Thursday night, Manila outscored Weiner 8-1 in overtime en rout to a 69-62 non-conference victory at Weiner.
Kimberly Wise helped Manila even their record at 3-3 by scoring 19 points while Katie Veach and Michelle Daniel added 13 and 12 points respectively.
The Lady Lions made it a clean sweep on the evening with a 34-18 victory in the junior high contest.
Manila will return to action Monday night when they host Marmaduke before opening conference play at home Thursday night against the Lady Pirates of Gosnell.
Buffalo Island Central returns to action Thursday night when they travel to Valley View and will open conference play Friday night against the Crowley's Ridge Academy Lady Falcons in Paragould.