Manila took early command of the 3A-3 conference race with a pair of crucial victories last week. The Lions held off Earle 65-50 Tuesday night on the road before outlasting Rivercrest 73-62 Friday night at Manila.
The Lions battled back and took the lead for good on an offensive stick-back by Levi Wallace with 6:17 to go, giving Manila a 57-56 edge. The Lions stretched their lead to 63-56 on a three pointer by Dillon Burrow at the 4:56 mark, completing a 10-0 Manila run. The Colts would never get closer than four points the rest of the way, as Manila improved its record to 11-4 overall and 6-0 in conference action.
Manila placed four players in double digits, led by Garrett Scott who had 19 points and 20 rebounds. Wallace finished with 18 points while J.J. Helton drilled four three pointers on his way to a 17 point performance. Kam Ashabranner tallied 10 points. Burrow, who Lion Coach Bill Taylor credited with "giving Manila the spark it needed," added nine points.
Terrance Banks led all scorers with 20 points, Demoine Brown tallied 17 while Tevin Howard and Robert Cooney added 10 points apiece for the Colts.
"Tonight Dillon Burrow was the difference maker for us on both ends of the court," said Taylor. "Good teams have different players step up every night and Burrow was our player in tonight's game. Garrett Scott continues to improve game after game. Rivercrest is an excellent team. I would hate to face them when they get their feet under them. We have put ourselves in a good position in the league, but we were in the same spot a year ago and didn't win the conference, so there is a lot of basketball left."
The Lions began the week with a 65-50 victory over defending state champion Earle.
J.J. Helton scored 22 points while Garrett Scott recorded a double-double with 12 points and 20 boards to lead Manila. Kam Ashabranner and Levi Wallace also hit double digits with 12 and 10 points respectively.
Earle held an 18-13 lead after the first quarter before Manila rallied to take a 33-29 edge at the half. The Lions led 46-43 after three periods of play.
Robert Marshall led the Bulldogs with 14 points while Autry Allen and Derek Kimball added 12 and 11 points respectively.
The Junior Lions blasted Earle 45-24, led by Kyle Joyner's 13 points. Scott Eubanks netted 11 while Caleb Reinhart added 10. Thomas Davis tallied six, Kyle Williams netted three while Landon Thomas chipped in two points.
Manila led 20-5 after the first quarter and 35-7 at the half. Manila took a 43-16 lead into the fourth period.
The Lions dropped a 43-34 decision to Brookland in the first round of the Junior Invitational Tournament at Nettleton. Dillon Groves led the Bearcats with 15 points.
Thomas Davis led all scorers with 19 points, including five three pointers, for Manila. Tanner Platz scored five, Kyle Joyner tallied four while Caleb Reinhart and Gavin Parker added three points apiece.
Manila will begin play in the NEA Tournament as the number two seed against the winner of the Armorel-Cedar Ridge game Thursday, Dec. 23, at 3:00 p.m.