Lions ride second quarter surge for come from behind NEA win over Cave City

Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Manila senior Erik Navarro skies for a rebound during the Lion's 68-58 victory over Cave City Tuesday afternoon in the first round of the NEA Tournament at the Convocation Center in Jonesboro.

Manila rode the waves of a big second quarter, overcoming a sluggish start, and posted a 68-58 come from behind victory over Cave City in the first round of the Northeast Arkansas Invitational Tournament Tuesday afternoon at the Convocation Center in Jonesboro.

The Lions started slow, falling behind 5-0 early, before fighting back to pull to within one point on an offensive stick-back by Seth Grissom midway through the opening quarter. But the ninth seeded Cavemen answered with an 8-0 run, highlighted by a pair of baskets from 6'7" center Jacob Patterson to take a 17-8 lead.

Lion Coach Lee Wimberley took a timeout to curb the Cave City run, and inserted five new players into the lineup, searching for a spark. Sophomore Patrick Tanner immediately paid dividends for Manila, drilling a three pointer to slice the Cavemen lead to 17-11 after the first break.

Wimberley stayed with his second unit to begin the second period, and watched senior Erik Navarro drain back to back three pointers to shave the Cave City advantage to a single point, 18-17. Consecutive buckets by Blaine Bacon and Patterson upped the Cavemen lead to 22-17 at the 4:25 mark.

But the Lions came roaring back behind their starters and a tenacious full court press. Caleb Reinhart completed a conventional three point play, and followed with a long trey from beyond the top of the key to give Manila its first lead of the game, 23-22. Kyle Joyner kept the Lion run going with another three point play before teaming with Thomas Davis on back to back steals and lay-ins to push the Lion advantage to six. Another Reinhart bucket, plus a pair of free throws from the 5'8" senior point guard, thanks to a technical on the Cave City bench, allowed Manila to take a 34-24 advantage into the dressing room at the half.

Lion senior post Seth Grissom scored seven points in the third quarter, helping the Lions build as much as a 14 point lead, 45-31, at the 2:11 mark. But the Cavemen closed the period on a 6-1 run, capped off by an eight-foot pull-up jumper by Bacon, slicing the Lion lead to 46-37 entering the final frame.

Cave City continued to battle back in the final period, working their way to the foul line and hitting eight straight free throws over one stretch to trim the Manila advantage to 57-52 with 2:47 left in the game. But Joyner came up with a huge three point play with 1:31 remaining to push the Lion lead to 62-54. Manila closed out the win by draining eight consecutive foul shots of their own in the final 60 seconds, four by Joyner and two each by Davis and Reinhart, to seal the victory.

"Our second unit really saved us today," said Wimberley. "They brought energy to the floor and changed the game around. I was very proud of them."

Reinhart finished as Manila's top scorer, pumping in a game high 22 points. Joyner scored 12, Grissom had 11, Davis tallied seven while Navarro and Matthew May chipped in six points apiece. Tanner contributed three while Timmy Smith added one point. Manila made 20-24 free throw attempts and canned five three pointers. The Lions committed 19 turnovers on the afternoon.

Patterson topped the Cavemen with 19 points. Bacon scored 14, Tristian McSpadden netted 11 while Ethan McSpadden finished with 10. Cave City hit 15-20 foul shots and made one three pointer. The Cavemen turned the ball over 17 times on the day.

Manila advances to take on top seeded Valley View Monday night at 9 p.m.

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