Manila's bid for a state championship almost ended before it even got started in Thursday afternoon's first round battle against underdog Parkers Chapel in Jessieville. After blowing a 13 point lead, the Lions found themselves down three in the waning seconds of regulation, but junior Kam Ashabranner saved Manila's season when he threw in a desperation three pointer at the buzzer, sending the game into overtime.
(Town Crier photos/Trent Fletcher)
Parkers Chapel held the ball, forcing the Lions to foul Jared Wood with 36 seconds to go. Wood hit the front end of the double bonus, but misfired on the second attempt, leaving the Trojan lead at 69-67. Wallace struck again with another inside bucket at the 22 second mark, tying the score at 69 all.
The Trojans set up for one final shot, but Ashabranner came up with a steal under the Lion basket and fed the ball to J.J. Helton, who streaked down the court before finding Wallace underneath the Parkers Chapel goal. Wallace was fouled as he drove for the winning score with 1.4 seconds left. The junior forward misfired on his first attempt and the Trojans called time out, hoping to ice Wallace on his second try. Wallace foiled the Parkers Chapel strategy by calmly sinking the second, giving Manila a 70-69 edge. The Trojans called timeout again to set up one last miracle attempt at victory, but the inbound pass was intercepted and the clock ran out, giving the Lions a heart-stopping victory.
"I just did what I normally do at the free throw line," said Wallace. "I tried not to think about the situation. It was a great win. It was a total team effort by everyone."
"We were fortunate on the last sequence of regulation," said Manila Coach Bill Taylor. "If Levi doesn't get his shot blocked at the end so Kam could get the three pointer off, we lose the game. We were just very fortunate. Give Parkers Chapel a lot of credit for coming back. We just had a breakdown on defense. We gave up too much dribble penetration and too many offensive rebounds, which shouldn't happen against us. Kam made the big shot and Levi made the big free throw. We are just glad to get this one."
Parkers Chapel took a 20-17 lead after the first period before the Lions rallied in the second stanza behind the hot shooting of senior guard Blake Wheeler. Wheeler drained three consecutive treys, the last coming with 1:18 in the first half, giving Manila a 34-28 advantage heading into intermission.
The Lions continued to build their lead in the third quarter, and when Wallace completed a traditional three point play, the Lions held what seemed to be a commanding 48-35 advantage with 3:22 left in the quarter.
The Trojans whittled the Lion lead to 51-44 entering the final frame, and came storming back in the fourth quarter, taking a one point edge, 58-57, on an offensive stick-back by Kylaus Williams with 1:46 left in the game. Wallace put Manila back up with a pair of free throws at the 1:31 mark, but the Trojans struck again with an inside basket by Jacob Midyett with 1:16 left. The Lions turned the ball over with 11 seconds remaining, and were forced to foul, sending Dylan Shields to the line. The senior guard calmly sank both ends of the double bonus, giving Parkers Chapel a 62-59 lead with just 10 seconds to go in the game, setting up Ashabranner's heroics.
"This was the biggest shot of my life," said Ashabranner. "I really didn't have time to think about the shot. I am just glad it went in."
Wallace led Manila with 26 points while Wheeler and Ashabranner added 17 and 15 respectively. Helton scored nine while Garrett Scott added three. The Lions drilled eight treys on the afternoon and sank nine of 16 from the foul line.
Williams and Midyett led Parkers Chapel with 16 points apiece while Wood added 13 more. The Trojans nailed four three pointers but shot a miserable nine of 22 from the foul line.