Town Crier Sports Staff
Manila used a 14-17 performance from the foul line in the fourth period of Friday night's 3A-3 conference showdown with Brookland, holding off the Bearcats with a hard fought 52-45 victory at Brookland.
The Lions finished the night 23-29 from the foul stripe while Brookland went to the line just 14 times, connecting on eight, which proved to be the difference in the game.
"It was a sloppy game, but in the last 1:30 we played about as well as you can play," Manila Coach Jerald Hudspeth said. "We got the ball in the right people's hands and they made the free throws when they had to. We stepped up and shot free throws and that's what won the game for us. This was a big conference win. Every win in this league is a good win."
"The story of the game was they hit their free throws," Brookland Coach David Smith said. "It was just incredible. Both teams played sloppy, but Manila hit their free throws when it counted."
Manila finished the night with 22 turnovers, including 16 in the second half, keeping the Lions from putting the game away earlier. Brookland didn't fare much better handling the ball, turning it over 21 times.
Manila built as much as an 11 point lead in the second half, but turnovers kept the Bearcats within striking distance.
"We made an adjustment at halftime with our press and forced some turnovers, which kept us in the game, but we were forced to foul late and Manila did what they had to do, hitting their free throws," Smith said.
The Lions carried a 33-24 lead into the final period and built the lead to 11 points, 44-33, after a pair of free throws by Jonathan Rose at the 3:33 mark.
Brookland charged back, outscoring Manila 9-1 over the next 1:32 and had a chance to tie the game, but Josh Banks' three point attempt from the left corner banged off the rim, and the Lions connected on seven of eight free throws in the final 1:06 to preserve the victory.
Manila held a 9-5 lead after the first period as both teams struggled to find the basket. Manila led 5-0 before Brookland finally got on the board with 1:28 left in the period on a three pointer by Patrick Farley. It was the Bearcats only three pointer of the night.
The Lions took a 21-15 lead into the dressing room at the half. Manila built their lead to nine points by the end of the third quarter behind the scoring of sophomore Blake Wheeler, who led the Lions with 16 points.
Joining Wheeler in double figures was senior point guard Trey McCormick, who finished the night with 11 points, including a perfect 6-6 performance from the foul line in the pivotal fourth quarter.
Ross Malloy and Chad Nunnally scored nine and eight points respectively while Jonathan Rose finished with six and Luke McLaughlin added two.
Brookland was led by Adrian Blancett with 15 points while Zach Williams added 10.
Brookland took the junior high game with a 56-41 win as Adam Shipman scored 16 points to lead the Bearcats. Brent Davis had 14 while Brett Bloodworth added 12 to join Shipman in double digits.
Manila's Kam Ashabranner led all scorers with 17 points. Garrett Scott tallied eight, Tracey Reinhart netted seven, Jeremy Goff finished with six, Brent Ray had two while Dillon Burrow chipped in one.
Manila (6-5, 5-2) began the week with a thrilling 43-41 victory over East Poinsett County. Trey McCormick nailed a pair of free throws late in the game to break a 41-41 tie and give the Lions the victory.
Manila rallied from an eight point deficit in the game's last four minutes to pull out the win. Blake Wheeler and Chad Nunnally led the Lions with 10 points apiece while McCormick finished with eight.
Troy Hull scored 15 points while Brett Hardin added 13 to lead the Warriors.
EPC took the junior high contest 51-28 behind Ky Madden, who drilled six treys on his way to a 24 point performance.
Garrett Scott led Manila with 10 points while Kam Ashabranner tallied six. Jeremy Goff and Dillon Burrow netted four points apiece, Brent Ray added two while Tracey Reinhart and Levi Wallace pitched in one point apiece.
Manila will resume conference play Tuesday night when they host Hoxie.
The Lions will begin play in the NEA Tournament on December 26. Manila will face Cave City at noon.