Boys’ basketball survives late comeback, advances in regional tournament

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Dwayne Sutton (12, #22) goes up for a layup. Sutton is Manual’s leading scorer this season.

Shea Dobson

The first round of the regional tournament against Eastern swung in both directions, though in the end, Manual pulled off a 65-61 victory.

The victory came despite Eastern’s huge late-game comeback. The Eagles scored 28 points in the fourth quarter.

“We just slacked off,” said Ja’Kory Freeman (12, #10). “It wasn’t what they did; it was what we did.”

“We can take it as a learning point,” added Steven Gordon (11, #21). “You can’t let anybody back in the game.”

It was a back-and-forth first quarter, with several lead changes in the first few minutes of the game, but three point shots by Freeman and Jake Chilton (12, #34) helped solidify the lead for Manual. At the end of the first quarter, Manual led 18-11, with the Crimsons having gone on an 11-2 run in the last three minutes of the quarter.

The second quarter was again primarily Manual-dominated, as Dwayne Sutton (12, #22) had both of the first two baskets of the quarter. Eastern did not score until the last 3:30 of the half. Another three-pointer from Chilton helped bolster Manual’s lead. Eastern began to come back, but two three-pointers from Sutton and a jumper from Eric Niemann (11, #33) helped Manual end the half with a 37-20 lead.

In the third quarter, Eastern began to mount a comeback. Several shots from the paint helped the Eagles to reduce Manual’s lead to 11 with 1:50 left in the quarter. Sutton hit a jumper, the last shot of the quarter, shortly after the 1:50 mark. The score was 46-33 going into the fourth, with the Crimsons having only scored nine points the entire quarter.

The fourth quarter came very close, as Eastern found themselves within six points of Manual with only two minutes to play. However, Manual’s offense produced more points than it had in the third, and it was enough to hold Eastern off despite the 28 points they scored in the final quarter.

“I think part of it was that it’s the first round,” said Head Coach Jimmy Just (Math). “Our guys were nervous, and we were playing not to lose rather than to win, and we need to work on that mentality.”

After their stunning upset against Saint Xavier, Waggener will be Manual’s next opponent in the regional tournament.