The Manual boys’ basketball team got off to a rough start to the 2016-2017 campaign with a 70-57 loss to the Waggener Wildcats on Tuesday evening. This is the first time the Crimsons have lost an opening game since the 2005-2006 season when they lost to Doss 67-43. The Crimson offense showed flashes of electricity, but only in short spurts, proving not to be enough to combat the three point shooting of the Wildcats.
Both teams got off to hot starts, scoring six points each within the first 3 minutes of the ball game. Stifling defense from the Crimsons forced several Wildcat turnovers in the first quarter but Manual was unable to capitalize on many of them. Eli Roberts (9, #24) provided a spark off the bench for the Crimsons, scoring two layups through heavy defense by the Wildcats. However, Waggener fought back and held a 16-15 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Wildcats fed the ball to the basket in the second quarter, scoring 19 points in the first six minutes of the period. Waggener’s defense forced pressure on nearly every Crimson shot. Manual’s offense started to catch fire at the end of the half, scoring 6 points in the final minute and a half. Waggener led 42-25 at the end of the first half.
The Crimson offense came out on fire in the third quarter, led by T.J. Ballard (12, #30) making two three pointers. Waggener was plagued by charging fouls and traveling violations, allowing Manual to claw back into the game. Waggener led 50-41 with 2:00 remaining in the third quarter. The wildcats scored another layup and added to their lead making it 53-41 going into the fourth quarter.
The Wildcats offense surged to open the fourth quarter, jumping out to a 60-45 lead with just 3:40 left to play in the game. Manual hit three quick baskets from Ballard (12, #30), Brock Cassin (12, #23) and Noah Hawkins (11, #32) to pull within nine points of the lead. Manual resorted to fouling the Waggener players in an effort to posses the ball and win the game. However, the Wildcats capitalized on their free throws and won the game by a score of 70-57.
The Crimsons will look to rebound as they host Ballard on Friday December 2 at 6:00.