Rivercrest knocks Manila from NEA Tournament
Rivercrest evened things up on the season by downing Manila 58-45 in the quarterfinals of the NEA Tournament Monday afternoon, Dec. 27, at the Convocation Center in Jonesboro. Manila handed the Colts its only defeat of the season on Dec. 17, but the Colts' speed proved too much for the Lions in the rematch of the two teams.
"Their quickness and effort gave us a lot of trouble both offensively and defensively," said Lion Coach Bill Taylor. "Their pressure is constant and everywhere, and sometimes you are counting to see if they really just have five players on the floor. We got rattled late in the game and didn't keep our composure, and that falls back on me. I am very disappointed in the way we played and the way we responded in certain situations, but all the credit goes to Rivercrest."
The Colts held a slim 10-9 edge entering the second quarter thanks to a Demoine Brown free throw with two seconds left before the end of the first break. Rivercrest built on its lead in the second period and took a 24-18 advantage into the dressing room at intermission. The Colts got hot from beyond the perimeter, hitting three consecutive treys in a 2:00 span. Blake Coffman nailed the first triple, followed by back to back three pointers by senior forward Tevin Howard, giving the Colts a seven point advantage. Brown's 15-footer pushed the Rivercrest lead to 24-14 before Manila scored the last four points of the half with back to back lay-ups from Kam Ashabranner and Levi Wallace.
The Lions heated up in the third period, outscoring Rivercrest 21-12 to take a 39-36 edge into the final period. Manila took its first lead since the 2:51 mark of the opening quarter, 32-31, on an offensive stick-back by Wallace with 3:11 left in the third. J.J. Helton's three pointer gave Manila its biggest lead of the night, 35-31, at the 2:47 mark. The Colts pulled to within 37-36 with 18 seconds left in the third before Wallace's lay-up at the two-second mark gave the Lions a three point lead.
Rivercrest took charge in the final frame, scoring the first 10 points of the final period, capped off by a Howard three pointer with 4:26 left in the game. A bucket by Levi Wallace and an offensive stick-back by Helton pulled Manila to within 47-43 with 3:21 to go. But a technical foul on Ashabranner at the 2:31 mark, which counted as the senior's fifth foul, turned the momentum back in the Colts' favor, as Rivercrest scored the game's next seven points to take a commanding 54-43 lead with 1:43 left to play. Brown's three point play with 46 seconds left punctuated the Colts victory.
Rivercrest held a decisive edge at the foul line, going to the stripe 26 times and connecting on 13. Brown and Howard led the Colts with 19 points apiece while Robert Cooney chipped in 10.
Manila was its own worst enemy, turning the ball over a whopping 25 times. The Lions went to the line only seven times, connecting on five. Helton led Manila with 16 points while Wallace added 15. Ashabranner scored nine, Dillon Burrow tallied three while Taylor Morgan added two points to round out the Lion scoring attack. Manila finished with six three pointers while the Colts hit five.
Manila will return to regular season action Tuesday, Jan. 4, when they travel to Corning for a 3A-3 conference tilt. The Lions will play host to Hoxie Friday, Jan. 7, in another league battle.