Lady Lions gain second consecutive 3A-3 Conference championship
Manila and Rivercrest, two of the top teams in Class 3A, squared off for the third time this season Monday night at the Lions' Den with a share of the conference championship on the line. The Lady Lions dropped the first meeting at Rivercrest before gaining revenge with a win over the Lady Colts in the finals of the Northeast Arkansas Invitational Tournament in December.
Manila gained control midway through the second half and went on to post a hard fought 57-51 victory before a full house, preventing the Lady Colts from gaining an outright conference title.
Rivercrest stormed out of the gate and took a 10-0 lead after Damonique Brown buried back to back treys. The Lady Colts stretched their advantage to 17-6 before Manila began to whittle away at the lead. Taylor Teague's three point play capped off a 6-0 Lady Lion run that sliced the deficit to 17-12 at the 1:49 mark.
Brown scored to increase the Rivercrest lead to seven points, but Kirsten Adcock answered with an inside bucket, followed by a long three pointer, just before the first period buzzer to chop the Colt lead to 19-17.
Rivercrest led throughout most of the second period until Manila gained the lead for the first time on an Adcock baseline jumper with 1:28 left before the half, putting the Lady Lions up 31-30. Manila would never trail again.
Charlie Smith's 10-foot jumper gave the Lady Lions a three point advantage before Brown's free throw with four seconds left reduced the Manila lead to 33-31 at halftime.
Manila built their lead to seven points midway through the third quarter when Emily Cook drove the lane for two and was fouled by Brown. Cook completed the three point play and Brown had to leave the game with four fouls, dealing the Lady Colts a severe blow. Manila's Adcock also picked up her fourth foul at the 3:02 mark and joined Brown on the sidelines. The Lady Lions maintained their seven point advantage, taking a 44-37 lead into the final frame.
Rivercrest stayed within striking distance in the fourth period, and closed to within one point, when Brown, who had reentered the game, scored on a lay-up and was fouled. The senior guard misfired on the free throw, allowing Manila to cling to a 48-47 edge with 3:17 remaining.
Teague hit both ends of a one and one at the 3:00 mark to give the Lady Lions a 50-47 advantage. Cook outscored Brown 4-3 over the next 90 seconds to put Manila up by four with 1:28 left, and when Deven Burrow hit a floater at the 48 second mark, the Lady Lions had the victory in hand.
Cook paced the Lady Lions with 17 points while Adcock and Teague added 14 and 10 points respectively. Smith and Kailen Shelton scored six points apiece while Burrow added four.
Brown scored a game high 20 points to lead the Lady Colts. Krystan Vornes had 12 while Taylor Harris pitched in 11 points.
The Lady Lions claimed a share of the conference title with a convincing 64-28 win over Piggott Tuesday night on the road.
"We are really proud of gaining our second straight conference championship," said Lion Coach Mark Manchester. "To share it this year with a great team like Rivercrest is quite an honor. Our main focus right now it to concentrate on advancing the next two weeks in tournament play. But we are very happy to get this conference title. Our kids really wanted it."
Manila closed the week with a 67-50 victory Thursday night at Buffalo Island Central.
Burrow led four Lady Lions in double figures, scoring 18 points. Adcock and Shelton pitched in 17 points apiece while Cook tallied 10. Teague rounded out the Lady Lion attack with five points.
Hannah Poe led BIC with 18 points while Karo Thomas had 11. Taylor McKuin scored seven, Madison Greathouse and Cidnie Brooks tallied six points each while Ashley Field pitched in two.
Manila led 20-13 after the first quarter and took a 36-28 advantage into halftime. The Lady Lions increased their lead to 51-41 after three periods of play.
The Lady Lions, who have automatically qualified for the regional tournament, will begin district tournament play Friday night at Harrisburg in the semifinals as the number two seed.
BIC will begin the 2A-3 District Tournament as the number five seed and will take on eighth seeded Augusta. Game time is 6:30 Tuesday night at the Mustang Athletic Complex.