Lions wrap up second in district tourney, conference
The Manila Lions wrapped up the first stage of postseason play by claiming second place in the 3A-3 District Tournament Saturday night at Corning. The Lions squared off with 3A powerhouse Earle in the district title game, falling to the Bulldogs, 74-42.
Earle was able to break open what had been a close contest midway through the third frame, pushing ahead by double digits with a 9-2 run over the final four minutes of the period. The Bulldogs, a favorite to clench the 3A state title by many, led 54-38 going into the final stanza.
Manila trailed 19-7 after the first quarter, and trailed 35-18 with under three minutes remaining before intermission, but fought back valiantly. The Lions finished the second quarter on a 10-0 run. Scott Eubanks contributed six points for Manila during the pivotal stretch, hitting two shots inside before concluding the run with a short pull-up jumper with 37 seconds left in the frame. Manila went into halftime behind by seven, 35-28.
Earle opened the second half with six unanswered points coming off two trips to the line by Carlton Mitchell and a breakaway layup from Daquane Willford. The Lions slowed the damage with three-pointers from Brady Jones and Dillon Burrow, but Earle wound down the third period on a hot streak.
The Lions battled hard throughout the night, but were just outmatched by Earle's pure athleticism.
"We played our hearts out," Lions head coach Bill Taylor said. "We played as hard as we could. Earle is a very good basketball team. They're favorites to win the state championship. We played extremely hard and I'm proud of our guys."
Eubanks led the Lions with a game-high 19 points on the night. Also scoring for Manila were Blake Carr 6, Zack Day 5, Burrow 5, Jones 3, Dylan Bogle 2 and Zack Reinhart 2.
Willford led Earle with 17 points. Mitchell added 16 on the night.
The Lions claimed second place in conference 3A-3 and second place in the 3A-3 District Tournament. Manila was presented with their runners-up trophies following the championship contest.
The Lions will have a few days to prepare and enjoy their achievements before returning to the hardwood for the next stage of postseason play. Manila is slated to meet host Flippin in the first round of the regional tournament at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in Flippin. A win would advance Manila to the semifinal at 5:30 p.m. Friday with either Hoxie or Mountain View, securing the Lions a 3A State Tournament berth. The regional championship is set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25. A third place contest will be held at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.