Lions take Gerald Jennings crown

Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Lion senior Jeremiah May spots up for a three pointer Thursday night at Armorel. Manila nipped Marked Tree 34-33 in semifinal action of the Gearld Jennings Tournament.

Manila proved to be king on championship night at the Gearld Jennings Invitational Basketball Tournament Saturday at Armorel. The Lions, playing without star guard Bradey Woodall, put together a total team effort and held off a furious fourth quarter rally by Gosnell, going on to defeat the Pirates 85-77 and bringing home the tournament title.

Manila jumped to a 20-12 lead after the opening stanza, and held a commanding 45-23 bulge at the half. The Lions owned a seemingly comfortable 62-43 advantage entering the final frame, but the Pirates put together a spirited fourth quarter rally and pulled within three points before clutch free throw shooting down the stretch clinched the win for Manila.

The game was marred by four technical fouls, all on Gosnell players, as well as several fan ejections during the contest. Manila senior point guard Matthew May sank 18-22 free throw attempts and finished the night with a team high 22 points. Three other players hit double digits for Manila, including Brock Birmingham, who scored 19, Conner Balew's 18, and Abraham Lopez, who pitched in 11. Joel Burrow scored eight, Dalton Hitchcock tallied four while Jeremiah May added three points. The Lions finished the night 27-37 from the foul stripe and drained eight three pointers.

Manila's Brock Birmingham twists between two Marked Tree defenders during the Gearld Jennings Invitational Basketball Tournament Thursday night at Armorel. Manila squeezed past the Indians 34-33 to advance to the finals.

Brandon Partee poured in a game high 29 points to pace Gosnell while Tramaine Anderson added 18 more.

"Our kids did an incredible job executing our offense during the first half," said Lion Coach Lee Wimberley. "We penetrated, kicked and made the extra pass better than we ever have. We were able to build a big lead and we somehow hung on. Matthew May hit some clutch free throws and really took care of the ball against incredible pressure. Abraham Lopez and Conner Belew hit some huge threes. It was just a total team effort. I am very proud of this team."

Manila advanced to the finals with a heart stopping 34-33 victory over Marked Tree in Thursday night's semifinals. The Indians led 15-12 after the first break before the Lions fought back to take a 17-16 edge at the half. Manila held a slim 26-23 advantage after three quarters. A last second shot by Marked Tree banged off the rim, allowing the Lions to escape with the victory.

Birmingham paced Manila with 11 points. Burrow and Lopez scored six points apiece, Matthew May had five, Jeremiah May tallied four while Dylon Carruth chipped in two points. Colby Malone topped Marked Tree with 11 points.

The Lions began the tournament with a 59-38 victory Monday night over host Armorel. Birmingham led Manila with 13 while Burrow and Belew added 11 and 10 points respectively. Woodall tallied nine before leaving the game with an injury. Carruth netted eight, Matthew May contributed four while Hitchcock and Trenton Thomas pitched in two points apiece. Monroe Carr led the Tigers with 17 points while Logan Blankenship added 12.

Manila traveled to Osceola Tuesday night and dropped a tough 53-52 decision to the Seminoles. The Lions led most of the way, holding leads of 19-6 after the first period, 30-21 at the half and 40-38 after three periods of play. Manila was up 10 with three minutes left, but the 'Noles rallied to pull out the one point victory.

Matthew May paced the Lions with 16 points, Belew scored 14 while Lopez pumped in 12, all on three pointers. Birmingham and Hitchcock netted four points each while Carruth chipped in two. Darion Gilmore led the Seminoles with 14 points.

In junior high action, Osceola used a big fourth quarter to down Manila 51-36. Daley Belew paced the Lions with 15. Austin Harmon and Emery Garrett scored six points each. Brian Gonzalez tallied three, Anthony Lopez and Garrett Hart chipped in two points each while Ty Wagner and Greg Patterson added one point apiece.

Manila returns to action Tuesday night with a road trip to Trumann. The Lions will face rival Rivercrest Friday night at Manila before opening NEA Tournament play Saturday night against Brookland at 9 p.m.

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