Town Crier Sports Staff
"I stressed to them that number 22 was going to be the shooter," said Manila coach Jeff Priest after his Lady Lions were edged 46-43 by Cave City in the second round of the NEA Tournament last Thursday.
The "number 22" he was referring to was Cavewoman Jordan Witt, who led her team with 17 points, including four of Cave City's six treys.
"We lost her a number of times and she hit the threes," continued Priest.
The Cavewomen went on an 8-0 run to open the game, which included Witt's first three-pointer, shot from near NBA depth. She followed that up with a field goal after Manila's own #22, Kimberly Wise, sank a pair of charity shots.
The points helped the Lady Lions to relax somewhat for the remainder of the period as they matched the Cavewomen point for point. The last score of the quarter was a high point for Manila as Kelee Misner had a put-back of her own deflected shot to close the Lady Lions to within eight, 16-8, at the break.
The second quarter saw Manila turn the tables on the Cavewomen as they began finding the hole as often as Cave City had in the first period. By the 6:33 mark, they had closed the gap to just two, 16-14, on field goals by Wise, Misner and Rebekah White.
The run deflated somewhat, however, when Witt hit her third trey to move the Cavewomen up, 19-14. This was followed by an uncontested bucket when Cave City's Amelia Bray grabbed a deflection near mid-court and went the distance for a 21-14 lead.
Manila then went on an 8-4 run to close out the half, Katie Donner's only bucket of the game coming with :30 left to bring Manila nearly even at 25-24.
"We were down by nine and didn't fold," said Priest of the Lady Lions' rally. "I was really proud how we came back."
Unfortunately, the Lady Lions came back from the break cold. They didn't score their first bucket of the half until Cave City had pulled out to a nine-point, 33-24, lead. Wise finally broke the drought with a field goal at the 4:59 mark. She then drew a two-shot foul moments later, sinking both to cut the lead to five, 33-28.
The third quarter came to a close with a single free throw from each squad and a 34-31 Cavewoman lead.
White opened the scoring in the final period when she put a lay-up in, drawing a foul in the process. The foul shot bounced off the rim, but Wise drew a foul of her own on the play when she came down with the rebound.
Her first shot tied the game at 34-all, the first tie of the game since the opening seconds. Wise's second shot failed and the Cavewomen rebounded, quickly going back out in front, 36-34.
Michele Daniel tied the game once again, 36-36, when she hit both ends of a one-and-one seconds later.
Both teams battled for some two minutes until, with 4:11 left, Bray put the Cavewomen up for good when she hit two from the charity stripe. Twenty seconds later Cheyenne Childers completed an old-fashioned three-point play to give her team a 41-36 lead.
The final 3:05 saw the Lady Lions pound out seven points, enough to take the win. Unfortunately, Cave City scored five to hold off Manila to advance to the final Saturday afternoon.
Wise finished the game with 13 to lead Manila, followed by White with 11. Daniel had eight, Misner seven, and both Donner and Colleen Kemp two.
Witt was the only Cavewoman in double figures.
Lady Lions 52, Lady Tigers 49
Manila had to win the "Battle of the Felines," 52-49, to advance to the game with Cave City, but Brinkley proved to be just as pesky to the Lady Lions as the Lady Lions would later be to the Cavewomen.
Leading 27-21 at the half, largely on the strength of an outstanding shooting day from Wise, who finished with 27, Manila had to keep fending off a number of attempted rallies. In fact, Brinkley used a 16-8 third period to take a 37-35 lead going into the fourth period. Only a furious finish kept Manila from being sent home early.
White added 12 to Manila's output, followed by Misner and Daniel with five each, Kemp two and Kristen Painter one.
Luela Wilbon and Shameika Hudson led the lady Tigers with 17 and 14 respectively.
The Lady Lions are next scheduled to resume play against the Lady Hornets of Harrisburg Thursday night at Manila.