Lions clinch outright conference championship
Manila beat Piggott 55-43 Friday night in front of the home crowd to complete its improbable run to the outright 3A-3 conference championship. The Lions end the conference season with an 11-3 record under first year head coach Lee Wimberley.
"It really feels good winning the conference," said Wimberley. "When the season began, nobody, I mean nobody would have said this would have happened. The kids asked me at the start of the season what they would need to do to win a conference championship. I told them 'win all our home games, split the road games against the contenders and beat all the teams you are supposed to beat,' and they did everything they were supposed to do. I thought it would take 12-2 but 11-3 was good enough. They just worked so hard. That's all they know how to do, is outwork everybody else. It was an ugly win tonight, but I'll take ugly wins anytime. I am just so proud of them. They are my top team. There's nothing fancy about us. We just get out there and work."
Manila bolted to an 8-0 lead to start the game, capped off by a three pointer by Dustin Sirmon, but the Mohawks charged back and took the lead with a 12-0 run of their own. Piggott held a 13-12 first period edge.
Brady Jones started the second quarter with a long three pointer to give Manila the lead, 15-13, and the Lions stretched their margin to 17-13 on another Jones bucket. But Piggott went on another run, this time outscoring Manila 10-0 to take a 23-17 advantage with 3:48 left in the half. Manila came back, scoring the last nine points of the half, five by Scott Eubanks, to give the Lions a 26-23 lead at intermission.
Manila maintained its advantage throughout most of the third quarter until the Mohawks Lucas Brewer hit a pair of free throws at the 2:30 mark to tie the game 31-31. Jones nailed a 15-footer to put the Lions up for good, 33-31, and Manila closed out the quarter on a 9-2 run to take a 40-33 advantage into the final period of play.
Eubanks began the fourth quarter with a steal and lay-up, and Caleb Reinhart followed with a long three pointer from the top of the key, giving the Lions a 45-33 advantage. Eubanks' lay-in at the 4:56 mark gave Manila its largest lead of the game, 47-33.
Piggott made one last charge, pulling to within 47-40 with 3:36 left, but a pair of technical fouls against the Mohawks sent the Lions to the free throw line, where they connected on six of eight foul shots, including three by Reinhart to secure the victory.
Jones led the Lions with a game high 21 points while Eubanks added 11. Sirmon scored seven, Reinhart had six while Dylan Bogle and Zac Riley added five points apiece.
Brewer led the Mohawks with 13 points while Austin Murray had 12.
The Lions began the week with a 69-58 victory at Rivercrest. Eubanks scored a game high 26 points to lead the Lions while Jones poured in 23 more. Reinhart netted six while Sirmon, Bogle and Riley all added four points apiece. Kyle Joyner chipped in two points.
Marquis Chew led the Colts with 16 points. Kahlil Williams scored 14 while Thai Harris and Rakeem Stewart added 13 points apiece.
In junior high action, Manila rallied past Piggott 41-32 Friday night after dropping a 58-52 decision at Rivercrest Tuesday night.
Logan Hamilton led Manila with nine points against the Mohawks while Bradey Woodall added seven. Matthew May, Miles Gifford and Tyler Johnson added six points apiece. Patrick Tanner tallied four while Jake Helton added three.
Helton burned the nets for 20 points in Manila's loss to Rivercrest. Johnson and Gifford pitched in 11 points apiece, Matthew May had four, Rodney Laster contributed three, Woodall tallied two while Hamilton chipped in one.
Faishon Virgies led all scorers with 21 points for the Colts.
The senior Lions will close out the regular season with a road trip to Riverside Tuesday night in Lake City before hosting BIC Friday night.