Town Crier Sports Staff
Manila's game plan Friday night against Brookland was to try to contain high scoring guard Corey Cope. The Lions did a good job holding Cope to just 16 points, but it was a defensive play by Cope late that helped seal the Bearcats 53-50 victory in the 3A-3 match-up.
Trailing 51-49 with under 30 seconds left to play, the Lions forced a Brookland turnover and looked to be on their way to tying the score. But just as Ross Malloy was about to lay-in the tying points, Cope soared from behind to block the 6'2" junior's shot to help the Bearcats hang on for the win.
Manila led throughout much of the first three quarters, holding a 14-9 lead after the first period and a 27-24 edge at the half. Brookland fought back to tie the score 39-39 after three quarters to set up the game's frantic final minutes.
Manila fell behind 4-0 to start the game but closed the quarter with a 14-5 run, highlighted by a pair of three pointers by seniors Dustin Hobeck and Austin Metheney. The game stayed close through the second quarter before Brookland grabbed their first lead, 20-18, since the early going on an offensive stick-back by Cope at the 2:56 mark. Manila recaptured the lead when Hobeck was fouled on a three point attempt. The 5'11" guard calmly sank all three free throws to give the Lions a three point edge at the half.
Senior Hunter Veach helped the Lions build their lead to six in the opening minutes of the third quarter by hitting an eight foot jumper before nailing a three pointer from the right corner. Brookland fought back and tied the score 34-34 when Bobby Swan stuck in an offensive rebound with 3:55 remaining. The Bearcats grabbed the lead on a three pointer by Patrick Fasley, putting Brookland up 37-34. Junior Trey McCormick brought the Lions to within 37-36 with a 12-footer, but Fasley answered with an 18-footer just inside the three point line. McCormick's trey with 17 seconds to go in the period tied the score at 39.
Veach began the fourth quarter with a short jumper to give the Lions a 41-39 lead, but the Bearcats grabbed the lead again on back to back baskets by Swan, the second coming with 4:06 left to give Brookland a 43-41 lead. The Lions tied the score 43-43 with 3:13 to go on a basket by senior Devin Wright, but Ray Akins three pointer put Brookland up 46-43 at the 2:38 mark. Wright followed with another bucket from inside the paint to cut the lead to 46-45 before Brookland's Will McGee hit 1-2 from the line to put the 'Cats back up by two.
Veach banked in a short jumper from the lane to tie the score at 47-47 before the two teams traded buckets, tying the score 49-49 with just under 1:00 to go. Brookland took the lead for good when Cope banged home a 10-footer with 39 seconds left to give the Bearcats a 51-49 lead.
The Lions placed three players in double figures, led by Veach and McCormick who scored 13 points apiece. Wright finished with 10 points. Hobeck had six, Malloy scored five, while Metheney added three. Manila was excellent from the free throw line, hitting 12-14 attempts, while finishing with four treys on the night.
Swan joined Cope in double figures with 10 points for the Bearcats, who finished 11-22 from the foul stripe. The 'Cats hit two three pointers on the evening.
"Coach (David) Smith had his team more poised than I did mine, and I was disappointed in our poise, but I was tremendously pleased with our effort," said Manila Head Coach Jeral Hudspeth. "We are going to get better. We just have to believe. I was proud of how hard we played, but we panicked a little. But it's the coaches job to get us more poised and I've got to do a better job than what I am doing."
In the junior high game, Manila's Blake Wheeler hit a fade away 15-foot jumper with one second left in overtime to propel the Lions past the Bearcats 32-31. Wheeler, who finished with a game high 13 points, hit the game winner from just inside the free throw line with two Bearcat defenders in his face.
Manila led 9-8 after the first quarter and14-12 at the half. The Bearcats battled back in the third quarter to take a 21-20 lead before the Lions tied the game 29-29 at the end of regulation.
Zach Birmingham scored nine points and grabbed six rebounds while Jared Burks tallied four. Cody Webb had three points, five rebounds and three steals while Tracey Reinhart scored three points and dished out three assists.
Adam Shipman led Brookland with 12 points while Graham Agee scored 10.
Manila traveled to Lepanto Tuesday night and dropped a 59-37 decision to East Poinsett County. Chris Davis scored 17 points while Justin Parnell added 10 for the Warriors, who picked up their first win of the season.
Dustin Hobeck led Manila with 13 points while Devin Wright and Ross Malloy scored nine points apiece. Austin Metheney added six. Manila led 11-10 after the first quarter before EPC took a 28-15 halftime lead. The Warriors built their lead to 45-21 entering the final quarter.
In the junior high game, EPC squeezed past Manila 39-36. Ky Madden scored 18 points while Brian Ford pumped in 16 more to lead the Warriors.
Blake Wheeler scored a game high 19 points, including five three pointers to pace the Lions. Garrett Scott scored eight, Zach Birmingham had four, Tracey Reinhart tallied three and Cody Webb added two to round out the Lion attack.
Manila will return to action when they travel to Hoxie Tuesday night to face the Mustangs in a 3A-3 conference tilt. Manila will begin play in the NEA Tournament at Arkansas State University on Friday, Dec. 22 at noon against the same Hoxie Mustang team. Manila enters the tournament as the number three seed while Hoxie is seeded sixth.