Controversial ending sinks Lions in state quarterfinals
Junction City forward Jalen Davis’ stick-back with 2.7 seconds remaining lifted the Dragons to a stunning 53-52 victory over Manila in the quarterfinals of the 3A State Tournament Thursday night at Monticello. Manila senior Joel Burrow canned a 17-foot jumper just inside the three-point line, giving the Lions a 52-51 lead with 14 seconds remaining before Junction City took their last shot to pull out the win. Junction City’s Jerrodney Tubbs barreled his way through the lane as the clock wound down, taking out Lion defenders Burrow and Dalton Hitchcock, allowing Davis a clear path to put in the game winning bucket.
The Lions doubled up the Dragons in the first quarter, outscoring Junction City 16-8 behind Bradey Woodall’s seven points. Manila continued to build its lead in the second stanza behind the hot shooting of Burrow, who buried a pair of three pointers while scoring nine points as the Lions took a 27-13 advantage into intermission.
Davis scored the first two points of the second half, but Burrow answered with a three-point play and a nifty inside move, giving the Lions what appeared to be a safe 17-point advantage, 32-15, at the 6:23 mark of the third quarter. From that point on, Junction City used a full court press to force the Lions into five turnovers, as the Dragons outscored Manila 19-4 to close to within 36-34 entering the final frame.
Woodall’s three-point play at the 6:21 mark gave the Lions a 41-37 lead. Manila stretched its margin to 43-37 when Burrow picked up a Brian Gonzalez blocked shot and raced the length of the court for an easy lay-in with 5:39 remaining. Junction City fought back, getting a pair of buckets from Terrell Gibson and a steal and layup by Davis, squaring the game at 48-all with just 1:10 showing on the clock.
Woodall knocked down a pair of charity tosses at the 1:05 mark to pull the Lions ahead by two, but Gibson retaliated, draining a long three pointer with 32 ticks left, giving the Dragons a 51-50 edge. Burrow’s basket followed before Davis dropped in the game winner. Manila had once last chance to pull out the victory, but Conner Belew’s desperation 40-foot heave missed the mark, ending the Lions’ season.
“They came out in the third quarter and pressured us,” said Lion Coach Lee Wimberley. “We didn’t handle it well, which is not like us. I probably should have called a timeout earlier than I did to settle them down, but I waited until they had cut it to single digits. That’s my fault. I feel like the turning point was when we had pushed our lead back up to five with three minutes left, and Junction City got an old fashioned three-point play, fouling Brian Gonzalez out. Obviously on the last play of the game I felt like Joel Burrow took a charge, but the officials didn’t see it that way, and that’s all that matters. It’s going to take me a while to get over this one. I honestly think we were the better team. The second half was much more physical, which definitely played to Junction City’s strength. But I’m very proud of these kids. They never quit. These seniors have won 66 games in their three years. They are conference champs, district champs, regional runner-up and made two state quarterfinal appearances.”
Manila, who finished the season 23-12, got a team high 20 points from Burrow. Woodall also scored double digits, dropping in 17. Gonzalez and Daley Belew both had four points apiece, Abraham Lopez tallied three while Brock Birmingham and Trenton Thomas added two points each. The Lions went 8-12 from the foul stripe and made three treys.
Tubbs paced the Dragons with 14 points while Davis added 13. Junction City struggled from the foul line, connecting on just 9-24 attempts while dropping in four three pointers. Manila won the turnover battle, 14-10.
The Lions advanced to the quarterfinals with a 40-35 victory in Wednesday’s first round action over Jessieville.
The two teams battled to a 6-6 draw after the first period. The big three of Woodall, Burrow and Birmingham scored all of Manila’s second quarters point to put the Lions on top, 18-17 at intermission.
Both teams struggled offensively in the third period. Burrow scored all five of Manila’s points in the quarter as the Lions went ahead 23-20 at the 2:54 mark. Chase Pederson dropped in a three-point bomb with 2:14 left to knot the game 23-all entering the final frame.
Manila edged ahead 29-27 in the fourth period on a Burrow three pointer with 5:50 to go. Jessieville answered when Braxton Shifflett sank a pair of free throws at the 5:19 mark to tie the game 29-29. Woodall put the Lions on top for good with a driving bucket with 4:42 showing on the clock, starting an 11-0 Manila run that put the game out of reach.
Burrow and Woodall paced the Lions, scoring 17 and 13 points respectively. Birmingham scored eight points while Thomas chipped in two. Manila canned 13-22 free throws and made three treys.
Dalton McClard paced Jessieville with 11 points while Shifflett added 10. Jessieville connected on 8-15 charity tosses and dropped in three treys. Manila forced Jessieville into 19 turnovers on the night.