Lions roar into Regional finals after gaining State tourney berth

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Manila exacted a measure of revenge against Hoxie Saturday afternoon, avenging last week's district tournament loss with a thrilling 71-62 victory over the Mustangs in the Class 3A Region 3 Basketball Tournament. The victory gave the Lions 20 wins on the year and propelled Manila into Monday's championship game against Earle.

Brady Jones soars over the back of Melbourne's Kerby Smith for two of his 17 points in the Lion's victory over the Bearkatz Friday night at Hoxie. The win propelled the Lions into this week's state tournament at Riverview.

Manila roared to a 15-7 lead after the first period behind Brady Jones, who buried back to back treys. Jones closed the quarter with a one-handed floater, giving the Lions an eight point lead.

Hoxie's Colton Watson caught fire in the second period, scoring 16 of his team's 19 points, including four three point bombs, to pull the Mustangs even 26-26 at the half.

Watson and fellow sophomore Tristan Privett nailed back to back treys midway through the third period to give Hoxie a 36-31 lead. Caleb Reinhart's three pointer at the 2:48 mark pulled Manila to within two, and Jones knotted the score at 38-38 with an offensive stick-back seconds later.

Manila's Scott Eubanks battles to stay in bounds as the Lions outslug Hoxie 71-62 Saturday afternoon. Eubanks scored 17 points and grabbed 12 boards to help lead Manila into the tournament finals.

Reinhart drove the length of the floor to put Manila up 44-42 with 33 seconds left in the quarter. Hoxie misfired on their next possession, and Jones took advantage, draining a three pointer from beyond the top of the key while being fouled on the play. Jones' free throw completed the four point play and gave the Lions a 48-42 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Manila led 50-47 midway through the fourth period when Scott Eubanks ripped down a rebound and muscled his way through a pair of Hoxie defenders, giving the Lions a five point lead. Watson retaliated with another long range bomb to slice the Lion lead to two, but Zac Riley soared above the rim for a tip-in at the 3:57 mark to push the Lion lead to 54-50.

Eubanks followed with a five-foot runner and a tip in of his own, followed by a pair of Dylan Bogle free throws, giving Manila a 60-52 lead with 2:15 left in the game.

Watson connected on his seventh trey of the night to cut the Manila lead to 60-55 and Hoxie had an opportunity to get even closer after Brady Jones was called for his second technical foul of the game and was ejected with 2:01 remaining.

Watson sank both technical shots to trim the Lion lead to three, but that was as close as the Mustangs would get. Eubanks answered with possibly the biggest play of the night, driving the length of the floor and connecting on a nifty move, kissing the ball off the glass while drawing the foul. The 6'2" junior sank the free throw to complete the three point play and the Lions had a 63-57 lead with 1:50 left.

Privett's three pointer breathed life back into the Mustangs, cutting the Manila lead to 63-60, but Kyle Joyner's driving lay-up at the 1:12 mark put the Lions back up by five. Manila sank six straight free throws in the final 53 seconds, two by Dustin Sirmon and four by Eubanks to clinch the win.

"Wow, I thought that was a very physical game," said Lion Coach Lee Wimberley. "It came down to which team was the toughest in the end and I think my team is pretty tough. We got some big tip-ins from Eubanks and Riley, and Brady Jones' four point play at the end of the third quarter was huge. Caleb Reinhart played great. He got some big steals when we needed them, and I thought Kyle Joyner was a difference maker tonight. He gave us some great minutes off the bench. He plays his heart out all the time and he came up with a big basket at the end. I am proud of them all the way around. It was just a gutsy performance."

"We made some big plays at the end of the game," said Eubanks. "Things got a little crazy but we calmed down and came through in the clutch. This was a big win for us."

Jones led the Lions with 18 points while Eubanks came away with a double-double, scoring 17 points while grabbing 12 boards. Reinhart netted 11, Sirmon scored nine, Bogle and Joyner chipped in six points apiece while Riley added four. The Lions hit 15-20 free throws and drained six treys on the night.

Watson poured in a game high 37 points, including seven treys. Privett chipped in 10 points. Hoxie hit just four of 10 foul shots, but drilled 10 three pointers on the night.

The victory sends the Lions into Monday afternoon's championship game, minus Brady Jones, against Earle.

Manila punched its ticket to the state tournament with a 58-41 victory over Melbourne Friday night.

Brady Jones scored 17 points while Scott Eubanks added 17 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Lions. Dylan Bogle scored nine points and grabbed eight boards, Caleb Reinhart netted seven, Zac Riley had six while Thomas Davis added two points. The Lions shots a blistering 19-21 from the free throw line, but hit just one of 15 from beyond the three point arc.

Kyler McLaughlin led the Bearkatz with 14 points.

Manila jumped to a 15-8 lead after the first period behind Eubanks, who scored eight points. Melbourne fought back in the second quarter and pulled to within 20-17 on a three pointer by Wil Dowdle with 3:13 left in the half. Jones scored six straight points for the Lions, starting with an alley-oop pass from Reinhart followed by a pair of jumpers to give Manila a 26-19 halftime advantage.

Manila stretched its lead to 41-31 after three quarters. Melbourne suffered a big blow when McLaughlin fouled out with 7:37 left in the game. The Lions hit 11-12 free throws in the final frame and coasted to the win.

"When we play defense and rebound we are a tough team to beat," said Wimberley. "We hadn't been doing that the last couple of weeks, but we got refocused and came through tonight. These kids continue to prove what hard work does. It is great getting to go to the state tournament, especially in my first year as a head coach. But you are only as good as your players, and I firmly believe that. I really have good players right now."

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