Freeman sparks Crimsons versus Eagles

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JaKory Freeman (12, #10) makes a quick pass to a teammate to his left.

Jack Grossman

JaKory Freeman (12, #10) makes a quick pass to a teammate to his left.

JaKory Freeman (12, #10) makes a quick pass to a teammate to his left.

After a slow start, Manual came back to easily beat Eastern 72-55. The Crimsons found themselves down 16-5 midway through the first quarter, when Ja’Kory Freeman (12, #10) sparked a 14-2 Crimson run throughout the end of the first quarter and the start of the second quarter with a three and then a steal and a layup.

“We weren’t doing too good so I just wanted to come in and bring a lot of energy to get us going because we were down,” Freeman said. “I just wanted to come in and get a spark to get us going.”

After trailing 16-5, Manual outscored Eastern 30-9 to end the first half, leading 35-25 at halftime. When Manual cut the deficit to four at the end of the first quarter, the Crimsons added a trio of three pointers in 80 seconds early in the second quarter by Freeman, Jake Chilton (12, #34) and Marcus McClendon (11, #23).

“I think that we just showed a little bit more patience, and we hit some jump shots,” head coach Jimmy Just said. “It’s just a matter of trying to stay the course of not getting frazzled when things didn’t go real well early.”

Manual shot the ball well from the outside throughout the game, hitting eight threes in the ballgame.

“I thought that we took good shots, and the kids shot with confidence,” Just said. “It wasn’t anything special–sometimes you hit those shots, sometimes you don’t, and tonight we hit them.”

The Crimsons were also able to stifle the Eagles defensively.

“I didn’t think that we were real good early, but I thought that we did get better,” Just said. “I think that the key is to play good defense, and if we do that, than we’ll be pretty good.”

“We started playing defense, and we started going hard,” Freeman said. “We always start off slow, and then we just start playing. We made sure that we were helping out on the weak side, on the dump ins, and we just gave 100 percent effort.”

Early in the game, Eastern’s big man Trey Moses dominated the interior, scoring six points and recording eight rebounds in the opening quarter. However, Manual stiffened inside as the game moved along, and Moses struggled the rest of the game by scoring just eight more points and tallying two more boards.

“We didn’t change our strategy, we just did a better job of what we were supposed to be doing,” Just said. “We surrounded him a little bit better and made it tough for him to have movement and catch the ball without somebody or two people on him.”

“We really wanted to keep him outside of the lane because he’s six foot nine, so no one on our team can really match up with him,” Chilton said. “We try to keep him out of the lane as much as we can, send multiple guys at him instead of one and that really slowed him down.”

The undersized Crimsons have had trouble playing against size all year, but Manual was able to stand up to the challenge tonight.

Manual did a good job of fronting the post which made it hard for Moses to get the ball.

“We made sure we fronted him, and when we fronted him, we made sure that there was weak side help so when he caught the ball, he had to give it up,” Freeman said.

Against Eastern, the Crimsons were able to use their lack of size to their advantage by forcing Moses to go outside to cover shooters. Manual used Chilton, who plays an undersized center, to stretch the floor and knock down shots. Chilton responded with eight points, along with two threes.

Jake Chilton (#34,12) splashes home a three in the face of a defender.

Jake Chilton (#34,12) splashes home a three in the face of a defender.

“Our team has a lot of good shooters so we take them to the outside on the perimeter,” Chilton said. “A lot of big guys don’t like to go outside because they are slower than most other players, so we are able to take advantage of that.”

The win improves fourth-ranked Manual to 16-3, as the Crimsons have won four of their last five games. Just wants his team to consistently play at the high level that the Crimsons displayed for three and a half quarters against Eastern.

“We can’t let up and we have to give a consistent effort and keep thinking the game,” Just said.

Manual will play at Moore on Tuesday and will host Jeffersontown on Friday before playing in the King of the Bluegrass Showcase located at Fairdale on Saturday, Jan. 31.