Rivercrest slips past Manila 57-54 in 3A-3 District Finals
Manila went into Saturday night's 3A-3 District Championship game against Rivercrest knowing they would be playing without their leading scorer and rebounder, senior team captain Scott Eubanks, who went down with a season ending knee injury in the Lions' semifinal victory over Earle the night before. Undeterred, the Lions put on a spirited and emotional effort that fell just three points short in a 57-54 loss to the Colts.
"It was just a gutsy performance," said Lion Coach Lee Wimberley. "It's hard to replace 19 points and nine rebounds. These guys just never quit. I don't have words for the effort they gave tonight. The bottom line is we let them get too many offensive rebounds and we just didn't make our free throws. If we do the little things we win the game tonight. We broke down the things we had to do to make up for Scott's absence, and I think the kids did that tonight. I thought Caleb Reinhart played an outstanding game, especially handling the press. Thomas Davis handled the ball as well as I've seen him all year. Kyle Joyner had an excellent game and Zac Riley really battled on the boards. I thought Matthew May and Kyler Williams did a good job for us. Everyone played well. We are just looking to get better and go win some games in the regional this week. I don't know what else to say about the kids except they made me feel pretty dang good tonight."
Manila led 10-9 after the first period with the help of three pointers from Reinhart and Davis. Khalil Williams had a big second quarter for the Colts, scoring nine points, as the number one seed built a 23-19 lead with 2:21 left in the half. But the Lions charged back when freshman Matthew May came up with a steal and drove coast to coast for a lay-up to cut the Rivercrest lead to two. Reinhart followed with a three pointer to give Manila a 24-23 edge at the half.
Neither team could gain more than a three point advantage in the third stanza. Rivercrest finally broke a 34-34 tie on a basket by Marquez Chew at the 2:35 mark. May converted a pair of free throws to tie the game before Colt forward Garrett Lane sank a pair of foul shots to put Rivercrest on top 38-36 after three quarters.
Thai Harris and Chew pushed the Rivercrest lead to six early in the fourth period, before Manila connected on five foul shots, four by Reinhart and one by Riley, to cut the margin to one with 3:49 to go. Lane's turnaround 10-foot bank shot gave the Colts a 44-41 lead and Chew followed with a 10-footer to push the lead back to five. Six foot seven inch Ethan Kirk scored on back to back buckets, giving Rivercrest a seemingly safe 50-41 advantage at the 1:55 mark.
The Lions weren't finished just yet. Thomas Davis scored on a reverse lay-up, followed by a Reinhart triple to chop the Colt advantage to 50-46. Harris converted a conventional three point play, upping the Rivercrest lead to seven at the 1:15 mark, but Davis answered with a long three and the Colt lead was back to four with 1:04 left. Manila went into a full court press with Davis coming away with a steal, and lay-up and the Colt lead was only two with 53 ticks left on the clock.
Forced to foul, the Lions sent Harris to the line where the senior guard hit both ends of the double bonus for a 55-51 Colt lead. Reinhart struck again, nailing his sixth trey of the night, and suddenly it was a one point game with 21 seconds remaining. Manila then fouled Chew, who like Harris, sank both free throws for a three point lead.
Manila had one last chance for a game tying three pointer, but Reinhart was unable to get a good look at the basket, and his three point heave fell short, allowing Rivercrest to escape with the win.
Reinhart finished with a game high 23 points while Davis also hit double figures with 14. Riley scored seven, May had four while Joyner and Williams added three points apiece. Manila converted 14-22 foul shots and finished with eight three pointers.
Williams led Rivercrest with 17 points while Chew and Kirk added 10 points apiece. Harris chipped in nine. The Colts hit 11-15 free throws, including their last seven in a row.
Manila vs. Earle
Manila's 59-51 semifinal victory over Earle Friday night proved to be bittersweet due to Eubanks' injury with just five seconds left in the game.
Both teams came out sluggish in the opening quarter, with Earle leading 6-2 after the first period. Manila got going offensively in the second stanza, outscoring the Bulldogs 19-7, including a 9-0 run to take a 21-13 halftime lead. The Lions maintained their advantage throughout the third quarter, and held a 39-30 lead entering the final frame.
Manila would lead by as many as 13 points following a pair of Eubanks free throws with 3:39 to go, but the Bulldogs applied full court pressure, slicing the margin to just six on three different occasions, the last coming with 12 seconds left.
Manila caught Earle sleeping on an inbounds play, with Riley finding Eubanks streaking for the basket. The 6'2" senior reached out, grabbed the basketball and while scoring the final two points of his high school career, injured his right knee on the play, ending his season.
Eubanks closed his Lion career with a team high 19 points. Davis was next with 17 points, including four treys. Reinhart scored 12, Riley had nine points and 18 rebounds while Joyner and Williams finished with one point apiece.
Manila will begin 3A Regional Tournament play as a number two seed. The Lions will take on third seeded Valley Springs Thursday afternoon at 5:30 in Mountain View.