MANILA ADVANCES TO 3A STATE TOURNAMENT AT SEARCY
Manila jumped on the Colts early and held a 13-6 lead after the first period, despite cold shooting from the field. Rivercrest started the second quarter with a 6-0 run to cut the Lion lead to 13-12, as the Lions continued to misfire from both three point range as well as in the paint. A pair of free throws by Manila's Garrett Scott broke the Colt run and when Scott followed with an offensive stick-back with 2:44 left in the half, the Lions held a 17-12 advantage.
But Rivercrest went on another 6-0 spurt behind the scoring of Demoine Brown, who poured in 10 of the Colt's 12 second quarter points to take an 18-17 lead with 54 seconds left the half. The Lions regained the lead when Scott stuck in another offensive rebound with four seconds left to give Manila a 19-18 edge at intermission.The Lion lead could well have been more, but Manila turned the ball over 14 times in the first half.
Rivercrest held a seemingly comfortable 50-42 lead with 3:28 left in the game before the Lions put on a furious rally behind the scoring of senior point guard Kam Ashabranner. Ashabranner connected on a free throw and followed with a driving lay-up to cut the Colt lead to 50-45 with 2:23 remaining. Dillow Burrow nailed a long three pointer to reduce the Colt advantage to 52-48 at the 1:43 mark. Demoine Brown answered with a driving lay-up at the 1:29 mark, giving Rivercrest a 54-48 lead.
After a pair of free throws by Terrence Banks kept the Colt lead at six with 44 seconds left, Ashabranner threw in a trey at the 37 second mark to pull the Lions to within 56-53. Manila fouled Howard with 36 seconds left, and the senior misfired on both attempts, giving the Lions a shot at tying the game. Ashabranner drove to the basket for two to pull Manila to within 56-55 with 28 seconds left. A Colt turnover gave Manila a chance to take the lead, but Ashabranner's pass in the lane intended for Wallace was picked off by Howard, who was fouled immediately with six seconds remaining. Howard hit the first of the double bonus from the foul line, but misfired on his second attempt, and Ashabranner pulled down the rebound, darting toward the Lion goal in an attempt to tie the game. But the senior point guard was called for stepping out of bounds with only one second left, and the Colts hung on to claim the regional title.
"We had a good start but we just couldn't finish and we were stone cold from beyond the three point line," said Manila Coach Bill Taylor. "We actually shot bad all three games in the tournament. Tonight it finally caught up with us. We had 23 turnovers which is far too many, but speed causes that and Rivercrest is very, very quick. I thought the turning point of the game was the two three's by Howard in the third quarter. That flurry really hurt us and let them build a nine point lead. We fought back, but we just couldn't pull it out. The big thing is we are going to the state tournament, and I am always glad to be in the big show. That's the one you want to win."
"We made some needless mistakes at the end that almost cost us the game," said Rivercrest Coach Rick Wilson. "Manila hit some big shots at the end. We didn't finish off with free throws like we should, but we'll take this anytime. I thought Blake Coffman and Tevin Howard really came up big for us in the third quarter. I thought one of the keys was our press. We forced quite a few turnovers."
Brown led Rivercrest with a game high 23 points while Coffman and Howard finished with 14 and 10 points respectively. The Colts finished 10-18 from the foul line and connected on five three pointers, including four in the pivotal third period.
Ashabranner led the Lions with 16 points. J.J. Helton scored 13, Garrett Scott tallied 12, Levi Wallace netted 11 while Dillon Burrow added three points. Manila went to the line just nine times, connecting on six, while hitting five treys.
Manila advanced to the finals by defeating Mountain View 53-31 Thursday night before downing Valley Springs 40-27 in Friday night's semifinals.
Kam Ashabranner led the Lions past Mountain View with 17 points. Levi Wallace scored 10, Garrett Scott tallied nine, Dillon Burrow and Blake Carr netted five each while Taylor Morgan tallied three points. J.J. Helton and Garrett Baker added two points apiece.
Ashabranner scored 18 points to lead Manila over Valley Springs. Helton tallied eight, Scott had six, Wallace netted four while Carr and Morgan added two points apiece.
The Lions will open state tournament play at Harding Academy in Searcy Thursday night at 5:30 against Drew Central, the number three seed from the South Region.