Lions fall 59-45 to Lamar in state quarterfinals
Lamar used its decided height advantage and a hot night from the field to end Manila's state tournament run, posting a 59-45 victory over the Lions in quarterfinal action of the 3A State Tournament Friday at Bald Knob. The Warriors used a half court trapping defense and the presence of 6'8" Porter Anderson on the inside, which limited Manila to just five two-point field goals in the contest. Manila also had problems getting to the free throw line, attempting just nine while making only five. The one bright spot for the Lions offensively was their three-point shooting, where Manila knocked down 10 of 15 attempts.
Sophomore Brock Birmingham put the Lions on top out of the gate, nailing a long three-pointer. After a Bradey Woodall free throw gave the Lions a 4-2 lead, Anderson stuck in an offensive rebound and added the "and one," giving Lamar a 5-4 advantage at the 6:30 mark. The Warriors would never trail again.
Christian Beeman followed with an eight-footer before back to back triples from Zederick Lee and Beeman pushed the Lamar lead to 13-7 at the 4:02 mark. Three pointers by Birmingham and Joel Burrow closed the gap to 15-10 with 2:47 left in the first quarter, but Beeman unloaded another trey before Anderson closed the period with an inside bucket as Lamar took a 20-10 lead after the first break.
Matthew May began the second period with a short jumper to slice the Warrior lead to eight, but Lamar would run off five straight points to go ahead double digits, 25-12, at the 5:01 mark. Birmingham knocked down another three-pointer for Manila, but Beeman answered with a triple and a two pointer as Lamar increased its lead to 31-15 with 2:33 left in the half.
Woodall drained a triple for the Lions, followed by a Birmingham 15-footer to slice the Warrior lead to 31-20 at the 1:28 mark. Lamar answered, scoring the last three points of the half, capped off by Anderson's sweeping seven-foot hook shot, giving Lamar a comfortable 34-20 lead at intermission.
Things got worse for the Lions in the third stanza. Manila managed just seven points while the Warriors canned three treys and built their lead to 49-27 entering the final frame. The Lions outscored Lamar 18-10 in the last period, hitting four three pointers, two each by Daley Belew and Abraham Lopez, but it was too little, too late as the Warriors advanced to the semifinal round while Manila's season came to an end.
Birmingham finished the night with 16 points to top the Lions, while Woodall also hit double digits, scoring 10 points. Belew and Lopez dropped in six points each, Burrow had three while Matthew May and Dalton Hitchcock added two points each.
Beeman scored a game high 22 points to lead the Warriors while Anderson and Lee chipped in 16 and 10 points respectively. Lamar rattled home seven of 13 three point attempts and canned 14-18 foul shots.
"We didn't play like we are capable of playing," said Lion Coach Lee Wimberley. "Lamar is a good team. They have a big guy and two good guards that can handle the ball. Beeman can shoot the fire out of it and they have a 6'8" guy. Defensively we tried everything we had. When we went to a zone, they hit three's. They were the better team today. We just didn't get to the basket or the free throw line enough tonight. Part of that was the 6'8" guy standing there guarding the basket. But I am super proud of these kids. With the conference that we play in, winning 21 games and making it to the quarterfinals of the state, I am very pleased. This team has a good future ahead of it. We have almost everyone returning. We just have to keep working."
Wimberley closed out by talking about his seniors. "Matthew May is what basketball is about. When people talk about Mania basketball I want them to envision that type of player, a guy who is willing to do anything it takes and do it the right way. Matthew goes about things with class and is always willing to sell his body for a win. I don't know if I'll find another one like him. He's a special kid. Jeremiah May is as tough as any kid I've ever had. He's always willing to take a charge and he gave it everything he had. Leonard Turney was our other senior. He came into the district late but he is one of the best kids you'll find. I am proud and pleased Leonard was able to play with us. I think all three of these kids will be successful in life."
Manila 70, Marianna-Lee 55
Manila raced to a 9-2 lead, getting three consecutive treys to begin the game in the Lions' 70-55 romp over Marianna-Lee in first round action of the 3A State Tournament Thursday at Bald Knob.
The Lions, who picked up their first state tournament win in the last three tries, got 23 points from Birmingham and 21 from Burrow in a game in which Manila never trailed. Woodall also came up big, scoring 10 points while pulling down 10 boards. The Lions nailed eight of 13 three point attempts, including five by Birmingham.
Manila led 13-5 after the first quarter and took a 26-18 lead into the dressing room at the half. John Blanchard, who led the Trojans with 23 points, buried back to back three's to begin the second half, sparking a Lee comeback. Consecutive buckets by Daylon King and Gerald Williams squared things 30-all at the 4:40 mark. Manila answered, going on an 8-0 run, capped off by a Birmingham three-point play to take a 38-30 lead. After a Warrior basket, Manila closed the quarter on a 13-5 run that featured back to back triples from Birmingham and Burrow as the Lions headed into the final frame up 51-37. Manila led by as many as 21 in the fourth quarter and cruised into the tournament's quarterfinals.
Rounding out the scoring for the Lions was Matthew May with six points, Conner Belew and Daley Belew had three points apiece while Dylon Carruth and Hitchcock pitched in two points each. The Lions knocked down 16-22 free throws.
"We felt like we had a good matchup if we could keep our turnovers in check, which we did," Wimberley said. "We got ahead early and then let them hang around, but the 21-7 run to close out the third quarter was the difference in the game. Joel and Brock had big games scoring tonight and our crowd was unbelievable. I thought the crowd made a big difference in the game. It was nice to have a home crowd advantage."