Lion's Regional Tournament bid falls short

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Town Crier Sports Staff

As they have done all season long, the Manila Lions fought to the bitter end as they played in the 3A-3 District Tournament Wednesday night at Manila. But for the third time this season, the Lions came up short against conference nemesis Marmaduke as their season came to an end, thanks mainly to the three point barrage by Greyhound sophomore Jacob Mason who drilled seven treys, including six in the first half, to lead Marmaduke to a 54-43 quarter-final victory.

Manila scored the game's first two points with an offensive stick-back by junior forward Ross Malloy, giving the Lions their only lead of the game. The two teams battled on even terms until Ben Jordan's lay-up with 2:01 left in the opening quarter gave Marmaduke an 11-9 lead. Hunter Veach tied the game for the last time, 11-11, with an inside bucket, but Chris Foresythe's three pointer just before the period ended put Marmaduke up for good, 14-11.

The second quarter belonged to Mason, who hit four straight three pointers over a three minute span to push Marmaduke's lead to 30-23 with 2:23 left in the half. Mason ended the half with his fifth three pointer of the period to send the Greyhounds into the dressing room with a 35-27 halftime advantage.

The Lions tried to mount a comeback in the third period when Malloy opened with an inside basket while being fouled. The 6'2" junior completed the three point play by sinking his free throw, pulling Manila to 35-30. But Marmaduke's Trent Smith, who finished the night with 18 points, scored six straight to close out the quarter, pushing the Greyhound lead back to eight, 43-35, as the two teams entered the final frame.

Trey McCormick's three pointer with 4:51 remaining in the game brought Manila to within 45-39, but Mason started a 7-0 Greyhound run with his seventh three pointer of the night as Marmaduke advanced to next week's regional tournament at Bergman.

Mason led Marmaduke with a game high 21 points, all on three pointers. The Greyhounds finished 4-7 from the foul line and hit eight treys on the night.

Manila placed three players in double figures, led by senior Hunter Veach who closed out his Manila career with 11 points. Malloy and McCormick also hit double digits with 10 points apiece. Seniors Devin Wright and Dustin Hobeck had eight and two points respectively while fellow seniors Austin Metheney and Lamonti Everett added one point apiece. The Lions were 5-10 from the foul line and hit four three pointers on the evening.

"I am proud of the kids. As always they played extremely hard tonight," said Lion Coach Jeral Hudspeth. "We just came up a little short. Marmaduke has a very good ball club and Coach Richey does an excellent job. It has been a real pleasure coaching this group of kids. They are as good a group of boys as I have ever had the pleasure of being around. They did everything I asked of them and they have raised the bar on what it means to be a Manila Lion. They will be sorely missed and I feel honored to have been able to have coached them."

"Jacob Mason has been capable of this all season long," said Marmaduke Coach Steve Richey. "He just happened to put it together tonight. Jacob and Chris Foresythe are our two best perimeter shooters. They are always up at the gym working on their shots and it really paid off tonight. Manila is a very well coached team and will fight you to the end. It's hard to beat a good team three times in one season. We were really worried about this game. We feel fortunate to come out of here with a win, especially on their home court. It feels great to be advancing to the regional tournament."

The Lions advanced to Wednesday's quarter-finals by knocking off Corning 56-50 in Tuesday's first round action.

Manila played quite possibly their best half of basketball in building a 34-14 halftime advantage against the Bobcats. The Lions were almost flawless in the early going, committing just two first half turnovers while making 16-19 free throws in building a 20 point lead.

Manila lead 46-29 with 59 seconds left in the third quarter before the Bobcats went on an 11-0 run, cutting the Lion lead to 46-40 with 4:30 left in the game. But six straight free throws by senior Devin Wright pushed the Lion lead to 53-42 with only 45 seconds remaining, and Manila held on despite a pair of late back to back treys by Logan Hart to polish off the win.

Wright finished the night 10-12 from the foul line on his way to 16 points. Ross Malloy also scored 16 as the Lions put two players in double figures. Trey McCormick scored seven points while Hunter Veach and Austin Metheney tallied six points apiece. Dustin Hobeck netted four while Adam Bloom added one. The Lions connected on 25-35 free throws and made three treys.

Hart led the Bobcats with 19 points, including Corning's only three treys of the night. Zach Brown also landed in double digits with 13 points. The Bobcats finished 6-13 from the charity stripe.

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