Lions corral Mustangs 70-42 on Senior Night

Friday, February 26, 2010

Manila tuned up for this week's 3A-3 District Tournament with a 70-42 rout of Buffalo Island Central on senior night Friday, Feb. 12, at Manila.

The Lions, who improved to 23-4 on the season, watched BIC take a 17-12 lead after the first period before exploding in the second quarter, outscoring the Mustangs 27-3 to take a 39-20 halftime advantage. Manila built its lead to 55-33 after three quarters and coasted home for the win.

Lion senior Blake Wheeler in action against BIC. (Town Crier photos/Trent Fletcher)

Manila started the game by taking a 7-1 lead before BIC went on an 11-0 run of their own. Ben Cole caught fire midway through the first period, draining back to back to back three pointers to help the Mustangs gain a 17-9 lead. Senior Blake Wheeler drilled a three pointer for the Lions to close the gap to five entering the second stanza.

The Lions took control in the second period, scoring 11 unanswered points to take a 28-17 lead with 4:38 to go before half. A free throw by Cole broke the Manila run, but the Lions went on another spurt, outscoring the Mustangs 11-2 to close the half with a 19 point advantage. Manila drilled four treys in the pivotal second quarter, three by junior J.J. Helton.

"You have to give BIC credit," said Manila Coach Bill Taylor. "They have been playing well lately and don't go away easily. We let them get hot from beyond the three point arc, something we didn't want to do. We did a much better job in the second quarter, especially on defense. We outscored them 30-3 from the end of the first period to the end of the first half. J.J. (Helton) caught fire from the three point line and we really put the pressure on BIC defensively."

Manila was led by Helton who scored a game high 22 points, including five three pointers. Wheeler scored 11 while Kam Ashabranner also hit double digits with 10 points. Levi Wallace pumped in eight, Dillon Burrow netted seven, Taylor Morgan tallied six while Blake Carr added three. Dylan Bogle contributed two while Garrett Scott pitched in one point.

BIC, who dropped to 12-16 on the year, was led by Cole's 10 points. Adrian Mondragon tallied eight while Brandon Atkeison and Heath Hawkins netted five points apiece. Drey Crabtree scored four, Logan Dewitt and Daniel Davis netted three points apiece while Brent Ray and Josh McCormick chipped in two points apiece.

The Lions honored two seniors, Blake Wheeler and Jared Burks. "Jared has been a great teammate," said Taylor. "He will always have my respect. He played a lot of minutes last season and hasn't gotten to play as much this year, but he has never complained. He has been a team player. Blake Wheeler has been a big part of our success this year. He really stretches the court with his three point shooting ability and has really improved on driving to the glass. Our seniors have been very important to us, as well as our two senior managers, Tray Malone and Zach Birmingham. All four of those guys have been big contributors to our team's success this year."

The Lions traveled to Earle Wednesday night and came up short on a 68-62 score against the Bulldogs. Earle took a 12-4 lead after the first period and stretched their advantage to 27-16 by halftime. The Lions rallied in the third period, outscoring Earle 22-16 to pull to within 43-38 entering the final frame.

Kam Ashabranner led Manila with 21 points while Blake Wheeler and Levi Wallace added 19 and 15 respectively. J.J. Helton scored three while Garrett Scott and Taylor Morgan added two points apiece. The Lions hurt themselves at the foul line, making just 16-25 attempts.

Manila senior athletes, cheerleaders, managers and parents were honored.

Manila will participate in the 3A-3 District Tournament at Earle.

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