(Town Crier photo/Trent Fletcher)
By TRENT FLETCHER
Town Crier Sports Staff
It wasn't pretty but Manila will take it. The Lions fought off a sluggish performance and came away with a hard fought 34-31 victory Tuesday night at Armorel in senior boys basketball action.
Neither team could mount much of an offensive attack, but the Lions hit just enough shots to post their fifth victory of the season over the winless Tigers.
Manila built an 11 point lead early in the fourth quarter, but saw the Tigers claw their way back to pull within 32-31 with 7.7 seconds left when Armorel's Kyle Cassidy hit a three pointer. Out of time outs, the Tigers were forced to foul and Manila's Trey McCormick hit two pressure packed free throws with 1.8 seconds remaining in the game to give the Lions a three point advantage.
The Tigers had one last chance to force overtime but Garrett Casey's desperation shot from half-court fell short as the final buzzer sounded and the Lions held on for the victory.
Manila took a 10-8 lead into the second quarter when senior guard Hunter Veach drilled a three pointer to close out the opening period. Amorel's Hunter Korten tied the score 10-10 with an offensive basket to start the second period, but Veach retaliated with another trey to give the Lions the lead for good, 13-10. Devin Wright's conventional three point play closed out the first half with the Lions up 16-12.
Manila stretched their lead to 23-14 after the third quarter as the Lions held Armorel to just one basket in the period.
The Lions built their lead to 25-14 when Veach opened up the final quarter with an inside bucket. After an Armorel basket, Manila's Dustin Hobeck was fouled on a three point attempt and sank all three free throws to push the Lion lead to 28-16. Armorel fought back when Cassidy drilled a three pointer and Casey stole an errant Lion pass and dribbled the length of the floor for a lay-up. Casey followed that up with a three pointer of his own to pull the Tigers to within 28-24 with 3:25 left in the game.
McCormick hit the front end of a one and one to break the Tiger's 8-0 run. The Lions built their lead to six by sinking three more free throws only to watch Armorel fight their way back before holding on for the win.
"We didn't shoot the ball very well tonight but Manila had a lot to do with that," said Armorel Coach Charlie Brown. "Coach (Jeral) Hudspeth is an excellent coach. Manila does a great job. His kids are always well prepared. They are the toughest defensive team we have faced all year. We had a chance at the end but it just didn't work out."
"Offensively we didn't play well at all," said Manila Coach Jeral Hudspeth. "But the kids had a lot of character and heart defensively. We stepped up defensively and held Armorel to probably 20 percent shooting. We knew coming over that even though Armorel was winless, there's not a finer coached team around or a better program. Armorel plays the way we play and they are fundamentally sound. It was hard-nosed against hard-nosed. I am very proud of our defense. It was the difference in the game. This bunch has a lot of character. We just have to get the skill to go along with it."
Manila was led by Veach and Wright who scored 10 and seven points respectively. Ross Malloy tallied six, Metheney had four, Hobeck and Adam Bloom netted three points apiece while McCormick added one. Manila finished 12-18 from the foul stripe and hit four three pointers on the night.
Koren and Casey led Armorel with 10 points apiece. The Tigers finished just 4-4 from the foul line and hit three treys on the evening.
In the junior high contest, Manila evened their season record at 3-3 with a 45-21 victory.
Blake Wheeler led the Lions with 13 points while Garrett Scott added eight. Dylan Hill scored six, Jared Burks had four, Tray Malone netted three while Seth Towles, Brent Ray, and Tim Augustine had two points each. Hunter Brown added one point for the Lions who finished 7-13 from the foul line.
Armorel was led by Jordan Gifford who scored nine points.
Manila led 8-3 after the first quarter and 20-10 at the half. The Lions blew the game open, outscoring the Tigers 17-4 in the third quarter to open up a 37-14 lead entering the final frame.
Friday night results
Marmaduke spoiled Manila's homecoming Friday night with a 64-56 conference win as Chris Forsythe and Trent Smith combined for 40 points. Forsythe finished with 22 points while Smith poured in 18 more. Ben Jordan also hit double digits for the Greyhounds with 11 points.
The Lions twice pulled to within three points in the second half, the last time with 1:50 left in the game, but could never take the lead.
Manila was led by Devin Wright who scored 19 points. Hunter Veach had 14 while Dustin Hobeck also hit double figures with 10 points. Trey McCormick scored six, Ross Malloy had four, while Austin Metheney added three.
Marmaduke led 14-11 after the first quarter and 32-24 at the half. The Greyhounds held a 48-42 advantage after three quarters.
In the junior high game, Manila improved to 4-3 with a 47-38 victory. Blake Wheeler scored a game high17 points and Cody Webb added 12 more to pace the Lion attack. Manila led 12-7 after the first quarter and 24-11 at intermission. The Lions took a 40-24 lead into the fourth quarter and held on for the win. Garrett Scott and Jared Burks scored six points apiece, Tray Malone had three, Dylan Hill added two, while Tracey Reinhart tallied one.
Colton Hale led Marmaduke with 11 points.
The Lions will return to action Tuesday night when they host Hughes in a key conference match-up before traveling to Piggott Friday night in another conference tilt.