Bulldogs power past Lions 75-57 to claim district title
Deante Williams poured in 25 points to power Earle to a convincing 75-57 victory over the Manila Lions in the finals of the 3A-3 District Tournament Championship Saturday night, Feb. 20, at Earle.
The two teams battled back and forth throughout much of the first half, with the Bulldogs holding a 17-15 edge after the opening period before breaking away late in the second stanza to take a 35-25 halftime lead.
Earle pulled away in the third quarter, upping its advantage to 52-37 and coasted home to take the 18 point victory.
Michael Wilson pumped in 20 points while Michael Perkins chipped in 11 more for the Bulldogs, who hit 17-25 foul shots while making four three pointers on the night.
Manila senior Blake Wheeler drilled five three pointers on his way to a team high 22 points while Kam Ashabranner added 14 more. The Lions struggled from the foul line, hitting just 12-23 attempts while banging home nine treys on the night.
Levi Wallace scored nine points, Garrett Scott tallied six, J.J. Helton netted four while Dillon Burrow came off the bench to add two, as the Lions fell to 24-5 on the season.
"Earle shot the ball well and they dominated the glass," said Lion coach Bill Taylor. "They got a lot of offensive rebound buckets and they blocked at least a dozen of our shots. We did not do a good job of offensive execution, and Earle got into the paint off the dribble too much. Earle is a really, really good team that is hitting their stride right now. We really struggled from the foul line and let things snowball on us, but we will bounce back and be ready for regionals Thursday night."
The Lions advanced to the finals with a hard fought 74-64 win Friday night over Rivercrest. It was Manila's third straight win of the season over the Colts, who have a 17-4 record on the year.
"We really played well Friday night in the second half against Rivercrest," said Taylor. "Beating a team as good as Rivercrest three times in a row is a great accomplishment. I thought Blake Wheeler had a terrific game and Taylor Morgan and Dillon Burrow gave us a lift off the bench."
The two teams battled to a 12-12 tie after the first period before Manila took a 30-23 halftime lead, thanks to back to back three pointers by junior Kam Ashabranner.
Manila maintained its lead in the third quarter, taking a 47-41 advantage into the final frame. Rivercrest closed to within 57-55 with 3:25 left in the game, but Wheeler drained a long three pointer from the left corner at the 3:02 mark to push the Lion lead back to 60-55. The Colts cut the Manila lead to 62-60 with 1:57 remaining, but on the Lion's next possession, Levi Wallace grabbed a crucial offensive rebound and fed Dillon Burrow with a pass under the goal. The sophomore powered in the bucket while being fouled, and nailed his free throw to complete the three point play, giving the Lions a 65-60 lead with 1:44 to play. A J.J. Helton free throw and a driving lay-up by Wheeler gave Manila a 68-60 advantage with 1:05 to go, and the Colts never got closer than eight points the rest of the way.
Wheeler finished the night with a game high 28 points while Ashabranner and Wallace scored 15 and 14 points respectively. Garrett Scott netted eight while Helton finished with six. Burrow added three points to round out the Lion attack.
The Lions will host the 3A Regional Tournament beginning Wednesday night at Manila.