Town Crier Sports Staff
Hoxie's Jonathon Lawrence stuck the dagger where it hurt the most, deep in the heart of the Lions, when the six foot senior guard drained a game winning three pointer at the horn, eliminating Manila from the 60th annual Northeast Arkansas Invitational Tournament with a stunning 41-38 victory in first round action Friday afternoon at the Convocation Center in Jonesboro.
The Lions trailed almost the entire game before Adam Bloom's three pointer with 2:05 to play tied the score at 38-38, setting up the game's final frantic seconds. Both teams had chances to grab the lead in the final 2:00, but each time misfired before Lawrence nailed his game winner, coming out of a Hoxie timeout with 4.6 seconds to go.
"We played real well, we probably made a couple of poor decisions in the last minute," Manila Coach Jeral Hudspeth said. "Our overall effort was real good. I was real proud of the guys. We fought hard against a team that was a lot bigger and more athletic. We made some poor decisions in the last minute, but I don't fault the ones that took the shots. They were just trying to make something happen. I just wish we'd been a little more patient. We made a nice comeback. Our defense was super. Hoxie is a good team. We executed our game plan real well. I just wish we had back that last minute."
The Lions last lead in the game came with 4:55 left in the first quarter at 7-5. Hoxie went on a 6-1 run before Bloom's three pointer tied the score 11-11. Hoxie's Tanner Jarrett put in an offensive stick-back to give the Mustangs a 13-11 lead after the opening period.
Neither team could get much going offensively in the second quarter, as the Mustangs outscored Manila 6-5 to take a 19-16 lead into the dressing room at intermission.
Hoxie built their lead to seven points at 34-27 after three periods, but watched the Lions battle back behind a three point barrage to tie the score in the game's final 2:00.
The Lions had trouble with the Mustang's 6'5" senior post man Tanner Jarrett, who led all scorers with 18 points. Ray Volner pumped in 13 points while Lawrence finished the night with eight, none more important than his last basket. Hoxie finished 6-12 from the foul line and hit three treys on the afternoon.
Manila placed three players in double figures. Bloom, Devin Wright, and Trey McCormick all scored 11 points apiece. Hunter Veach had four while Ross Malloy added one. The Lions only attempted four free throws and connected on two, but stayed in the game by ripping eight three pointers.
Manila will return to action Jan. 5 when they host Gosnell in a 3A-2 conference match-up.