Lions gain key 3A-conference victories
Manila (6-4, 4-1 3A-3) came away with two huge 3A-3 conference wins last week, defeating defending 3A State Champion Earle on the road 69-61 before returning home to upend Rivercrest 67-60 Friday night at Manila.
The Lions got a big night from senior guard Brady Jones, who poured in 32 points in Manila's victory over the Bulldogs. Scott Eubanks also hit double digits, scoring 19 points, while Dustin Sirmon and Dylan Bogle chipped in eight points apiece. Caleb Reinhart and Thomas Davis added one point each.
Manila led 15-6 after the opening period of play and took a 31-20 lead into the dressing room at the half. The Lions led 47-38 after three quarters of action.
J.J. Burnett came off the bench to drill five three pointers in the final quarter and finished with 24 points to lead the Bulldogs. Autry Allen scored 17.
Manila broke an early 2-2 tie and never trailed again in the Lions' seven point victory over Rivercrest Friday night. Scott Eubanks led the Lions with 22 points while Brady Jones and Dylan Bogle added 19 and 14 points respectively. Zac Riley scored seven, Dustin Sirmon tallied three while Kyle Joyner added two. Manila finished 18-29 from the foul stripe and made three treys on the night.
Thai Harris led Rivercrest with 11 points while Rasheem Stewart added 10. The Colts hit just three of 11 foul shots and made five three pointers.
The Lions built a 15-10 first period lead and stretched their advantage to 32-22 at the half behind Eubanks, who scored 10 second quarter points. Manila led by as many as 16 points late in the third period after back to back offensive stick-backs by Dylan Bogle and a lay-in from Zac Riley. Rivercrest outscored the Lions 9-2 to close out the quarter and cut the Manila lead to 48-39 entering the final frame.
Manila finished off the victory, hitting eight straight free throws, including six in a row by Brady Jones in the final 46 seconds to seal the deal.
"It was a big week for us," said Lion Coach Lee Wimberley. "We picked up two big conference victories. Our defense was excellent in both games. We built up big leads in both games and then saw both Earle and Rivercrest cut those leads to three points in each game. But we persevered and did what we had to do to hold on for the wins both times. Everyone played well. Tonight, Eubanks and Bogle were just awesome. You can't coach that kind of play. It was pure heart. I thought it was key for us to win a game like tonight. Rivercrest played a box and one on Brady and we were still able to win despite him not scoring a ton of points. Brady is such a great player. He really distributed the ball well tonight and hit the key free throws down the stretch. We preach defense and rebounding and we got both this week. When we do that, we will win a lot of games."
In junior high action, Earle defeated Manila 60-22 while the junior Lions fell to Rivercrest 51-41.
Jake Helton and Matthew May scored six points each to lead Manila against Earle. Logan Hamilton and Jeremiah May netted three points apiece while Tyler Johnson and Rodney Laster added two points each.
DeShaun Birges scored a game high 25 points to lead Rivercrest over the junior Lions.
Matthew May led Manila with 12 points while Jake Helton and Rodney Laster added eight points apiece. Bradley Woodall scored five while Miles Gifford and Logan Hamilton pitched in four points each.
Manila returns to action Friday night at 7:30 in the first round of the Northeast Arkansas Invitational Tournament at the Convocation Center in Jonesboro. The Lions, seeded sixth, will take on 11th seeded Trumann in the opening round.