The Manila Lady Lions used the combination of high energy and a feisty, scrappy playing style to make a run in the 3A-3 District Tournament at Piggott, reaching the semifinal round to secure a spot in the regional tournament beginning later this week at Bergman.
The Lady Lions held a 12-11 advantage at the end of the first, thanks in large part to a pair of three-pointers from Deven Burrows. Rivercrest began to heat up in the second period, attacking the basket to move ahead 30-21. Manila trailed, 46-36, after three quarters.
Rivercrest had the slight edge in experience, as the Lady Lions play several young players.
Both teams struggled at the line. Every point the Lady Lions managed in the third quarter came at the stripe, as the team made 15 free throws. Just as important, though, were the 10 attempts Manila missed during the third. For the game, the Lady Lions made 13 of 32 free throws. Rivercrest made a similar 15 of 33 at the stripe.
"I thought free throws were the one thing that really hurt us," Priest said. "When you 14 of 32 at the line, that's the difference in the game. That killed us tonight. You can't get deep in February and shoot that poorly at the free throw line."
Courtney Craine led Manila with 11 points on the night. Also scoring for the Lady Lions were Kirsten Adcock 8, Burrows 8, Emily Cook 7, Shelby Wallace 6, Jordan Robertson 5 and Taylor Teague 1.
Aleta Cannon's 18 was the high mark for Rivercrest. Dominique Brown and Hanna Kirk added 16 and 10, respectively, for the Lady Colts.
Although the outcome of the game was not what Priest and his squad hoped for, the young team has earned a trip to the regional tournament. The Lady Lions, the 3A-3 fourth seed, will meet 3A-1E top seed Mountain View at 4 p.m. Wednesday in Bergman.
Manila topped the Earle Lady Bulldogs in semifinal action Thursday, 56-54.
Cook had a monster effort to lead the Lady Lions, scorching the nets for a game-high 22 points, including 13 in the pivotal fourth quarter. Craine was also solid, posting 15 in the win. Also scoring for Manila were Adcock 8, Teague 5, Wallace 4 and Robertson 2.
Breanna Gillion and Cymore Poole led Earle with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
Free throws were critical on the night, particularly in the final stanza. Manila sank 12-14 at the stripe in the fourth. Cook made six free throws, while Craine added four and Adcock sank two during the pivotal quarter.
Earle led 14-9 after the first and 31-17 at halftime.
The Lady Lions started the district tourney with a 46-36 win over the hosting Piggott Lady Mohawks.
Manila led after each quarter: 8-6; 23-20 and 35-23. The Lady Lions were able to take control in the third, as their defensive pressure allowed just one Lady Mohawk field goal in the stanza.
Cook's 17 led all scorers on the night. Also scoring for Manila were Wallace 6, Adcock 5, Teague 4, Robertson 4, Joyner 1 and Taylor Craig 1.
Allison Gurley led Piggott with 12 points.