Lions stretch winning streak to four

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Town Crier Sports Staff

Manila began the season strong, winning five of their first six games, including wins over Riverside and Buffalo Island Central. The Lions then ran into some tough times as they saw their record dip to 7-13. The Lions never lost faith and have now turned things around, winning four consecutive games including Tuesday night's 58-46 win over East Poinsett County at Manila.

The Lions trailed 2-0 early but ran off the game's next six points and never trailed again as they improved to 10-13 overall and 5-8 in league play. Manila continued to build on their first period lead as Trey McCormick, Devin Wright, and Ross Malloy combined for 17 of the Lion's first quarter points. Senior Hunter Veach ripped a three pointer with 23 seconds left in the quarter to give Manila a 23-11 lead heading into the second stanza.

EPC refused to roll over and fought back in the second period after Manila had built a 28-14 lead at the 6:37 mark. The Warriors started their comeback on back to back baskets from Tee Jay Huggins, including a three pointer from the right wing. Another EPC basket was followed by back to back treys from Brett Hardin and Huggins to cut the Lion lead to 30-27 with 2:23 left in the half.

Ross Malloy scored on a strong move to the bucket with 1:09 left, giving Manila a 32-27 lead as the two teams went to the dressing room for intermission.

Neither team could get much going offensively in the third quarter as the Lions outscored the Warriors 9-6 to take a 41-33 lead into the final frame.

The Lions built their lead back to double digits with a pair of free throws by Wright and a three pointer from Austin Metheney with 5:30 left in the game. EPC made one last run when Hardin drilled a three pointer and Huggins scored on a 10-foot jumper, cutting the Lion lead to 46-40 with 4:20 to go.

Manila then went on an 8-0 run capped off by a Malloy bucket to take a 54-40 lead, blowing the game open.

McCormick, who hit three treys on the night, led Manila with 17 points. Wright finished with a double-double, scoring 13 points while grabbing 10 rebounds. Malloy finished with 11 points while Veach scored 10 points. Metheney scored five while Dustin Hobeck added two. The Lions finished 14-19 from the free throw line and hit six three pointers on the night.

Huggins was the only Warrior in double figures, scoring 12 points while Hardin added nine. EPC was 3-5 from the foul line and hit seven treys.

"We are playing better, overall our defense was really good tonight," Manila Coach Jeral Hudspeth said. "We still have to get better at getting better looks. Sometimes I think we see things that just aren't there. This team was really struggling about a month ago but we have really gotten better. East Poinsett County has some good athletes. But our defense never let them get into any kind of a rhythm offensively. I was really proud of that. Devin Wright had a great second half. I challenged him at halftime and he really responded, especially on the boards. It was just a good victory. We just have to keep getting better. Before this thing is over, we would like to think we are going to make some noise."

"We played hard, we're just not very good right now," EPC Coach Josh Hill said. "I think we played pretty good on defense but Manila is very patient and got the shots they wanted. Coach Hudspeth does an excellent job. We took too many poor shots and I thought that was the difference in the game."

The Lions improved to 11-13 overall and 6-8 in the league with Friday night's 53-37 victory over the Bearcats at Brookland.

Hunter Veach and Trey McCormick pumped in 16 points apiece, leading the Lions to their fourth straight win. Manila jumped to an 11-2 first period lead and never looked back as the Lions continued their late season surge. Manila held a 24-19 lead after the second quarter and took a 32-23 lead heading into the final period.

Ross Malloy scored six points, Dustin Hobeck tallied four, Austin Metheney and Adam Bloom netted three points each, Devin Wright and Gary Tyler contributed two points apiece while Jace Elkins added one point to round out the Lion attack. Manila went 12-16 from the foul line and hit three treys.

Brookland was led by Cory Cope, who scored a game high 17 points. The Bearcats finished 6-9 from the free throw line.

In junior high action, Manila split a pair of conference games, drubbing EPC 53-29 before dropping a tough 57-53 decision to Brookland.

Blake Wheeler poured in a game high 26 points including four three pointers, in the Lion's win over EPC. Cody Webb had nine points, Jared Burks scored six, while Zach Birmingham and Brent Ray registered three points apiece. Tray Malone and Tracey Reinhart netted two points each while Seth Towles and Jeremy Goff added one point apiece for the Lions, who hit 5-8 free throws and nailed eight treys.

Manila led 13-9 after the first quarter and stretched their lead to 31-13 at the half. Manila carried a 46-22 lead into the fourth quarter.

Ky Madden led EPC with 14 points.

Wheeler came back to score 19 points, but it wasn't enough as the Lions fell to Brookland Friday night. Brookland grabbed a 10-9 lead after the first period before Manila rallied to take 21-19 lead at the half. The Bearcats used an 18-7 third quarter run to take a 37-28 lead into the final frame.

Dylan Hill and Tray Malone scored eight points apiece, Cody Webb netted seven, Tracey Reinhart netted six while Zach Birmingham tallied five to round out the Lion attack. Manila hit 14-19 free throws and finished with seven three pointers, three by Wheeler and two each from Malone and Reinhart.

Manila will return to action Tuesday night when they host Hoxie before traveling to Hughes to close out the conference schedule Friday night.

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