Late rally gives Manila Junior District title

Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Manila Junior Lions, 3A-3 District Champions.

Manila and Osceola met Saturday afternoon in the finals of the 3A-3 Junior High District Tournament at Hoxie. It was the fourth title matchup in the last five years between the two rivals. The first three games went to the Seminoles, but Saturday afternoon was the Lions’ time to roar. Manila outscored Osceola 9-2 over the last 1:58 of the game to post a come from behind 54-47 victory, giving the Lions the district championship.

Manila, who had trailed the entire contest, entered the fourth quarter down 41-39. Ty Wagner pitched in a pair of free throws to even the score, but Stefon Coleman threw in an offensive rebound to put the Seminoles back on top. Austin Harmon squared the game once more at the 3:49 mark with a pair of charity tosses, but once again, Osceola answered, this time with Chris Littleton’s eight-footer to give the Seminoles a 45-43 edge at the 3:01 mark. With 2:23 showing on the clock, Connor Milligan buried a 17-footer from the left corner to tie the game once again, 45-all, bringing the Lion fans to their feet.

An Osceola turnover gave Manila the ball back. Harmon was fouled, and the freshman sank one of two foul shots to put the Lions on top, 46-45, with 1:58 left. A Seminole miss gave the ball back to Manila, and Harmon took advantage, driving to the hole and laying it off the glass to give Manila a 48-45 advantage with 1:37 showing on the clock. Osceola pulled within one when Nick Vornes dropped in a 10-footer from the baseline, trimming the Lion lead to 48-47 with 1:22 left. The Seminoles elected to foul, sending Wagner to the line where the freshman calmly sank both foul shots, giving Manila a 50-47 lead with 1:15 to go.

Austin Harmon flips in two of his game high 24 points in Manila's Junior District Championship victory over Osceola Saturday afternoon in Hoxie.

An Osceola turnover again gave the ball back to Manila, and the Seminoles were whistled for an intentional foul, sending Jake Baltimore to the line. The eighth grader hit one of two foul shots to put the Lions up by four. Manila remained in possession of the ball, and Baltimore was fouled immediately, where he again made one of two foul shots, putting the Lions up 52-47 with 51 ticks left. Osceola could not find the basket the rest of the way, while the Lions closed the game out from the foul line to claim the championship.

The Seminoles raced to a 15-6 lead in the first period before Harmon brought Manila back with consecutive treys to cut the gap to 17-12 entering the second quarter. Wagner and Harmon combined for 11 points in the second stanza, but Manila still trailed 28-23 at intermission. Littleton buried three consecutive treys in the third period, helping Osceola move ahead 41-34 late in the frame, but a three- point play by Wagner and a Harmon lay-in off an assist from Wagner sliced the ‘Nole lead to 41-39 entering the final frame.

Harmon topped Manila with 24 points while Wagner pitched in 18 more. Tyler Perez scored five, Milligan had four while Baltimore added three. The Lions made 16-26 free throws and finished with four three pointers, all by Harmon.

Lion freshman Ty Wagner prepares to knock down a free throw during Manila's fourth quarter rally against Osceola.  The Lions outscored the Seminoles 9-2 in the closing minutes to post a come from behind 54-47 win, bringing home the junior high district title.

Littleton poured in 23 points for Osceola, who connected on 6-10 foul shots while draining four three pointers. Manila won the turnover battle, 18-15.

“I am so happy I don’t even know what to say right now,” said Manila coach John Deaton. “I’m so proud of these guys. Osceola came out smoking, but our guys hung in there and never quit. Harmon and Wagner played really well, and Milligan hit a huge basket in the fourth quarter. Osceola has been our nemesis every year, so to beat them makes this championship even sweeter. All of our guys played hard and played together. They just love the game.”

Manila began the tournament by thumping Piggott 55-15 Monday night in the quarterfinals. Harmon paced the Lions with 15 points while Wagner had 11. Dax Davison scored eight, Jaron Burrow tallied six, Drew Dogan netted five while Brayden Mattingly contributed four. Baltimore, Perez and Cameron Lee all chipped in two points apiece.

In Thursday’s semifinals, Manila slipped past Walnut Ridge 52-50. Harmon led the Lions with 23 points while Wagner scored 16. Davison tallied six, Baltimore netted four while Perez contributed three points. Manila hit 16-20 free throws and drilled eight three pointers.

Cole Manning poured in a game high 27 points to top the Bobcats.

In girls play, Manila saw their season end in heartbreaking fashion, losing a 39-38 decision to Piggott. Claire Bellers pumped in 25 points to lead the Lady Mohawks.

Sadie McDonald paced Manila with 12 points. Anna Grace Adams scored nine, Olivia May had six, Ashten Massey tallied four while Madison Hitchcock netted three. Madison Carruth and Kara Watts pitched in two points apiece.

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