Lackluster second half dooms fatigued Crimsons in Best in Hoops final


Photo by Kate Hatter.

Jack Grossman

After breaking the Crimson pressure, Oldham County guard Brandon Johnson (12, #2) found Jackson Gibson (11, #10) for an open three on the wing. Gibson then stole the inbounds pass and hit a layup to give the Colonels a 63-43 lead to effectively seal the game with just 3:08 left.

After falling behind early, Manual (7-3) played a strong first half and used a 9-0 to lead by one at 16-15 after the first quarter. The Crimsons lead by as many as four in the second quarter before Clayton Wirth (12, #4) threw in a three at the buzzer to tie the game at 27 going into halftime. In the second half, it was all Oldham County. The Colonels used an 11-4 burst to start the half, and never looked back as Oldham County (8-1) outscored the Crimsons 43-24 in the second half to win the Best in Hoops tournament over Manual 70-51.

“They just continued to play their game,” Manual Head Coach Jimmy Just said. “They did a nice job of handling our pressure, and our guys looked fatigued. Once we started getting down we had to try to put on a little bit more pressure. It’s probably one of those things that we need to adjust to more than what we did.”

Fatigue was a major factor for the Crimsons. Manual had played its third game in three days in the tournament. In contrast, Oldham County’s first round game was on Thursday, so they “only” had to play three games in four days.

“Fatigue was a huge factor for us,” guard Jo Aunn Rivers (12, #10) said. “A lot of our guys were really tired. It was hard for us today knowing that we were at Oldham County, so we just had to try our best.”

Manual has played ten games in the first 20 days of the season.

“We’ve had very little time off, we’ve had a bunch of games. We had three games the first week, three games the second week and four games this week. So we’ve played a bunch of games in a short period of time. We’re learning a lot from it, but I know that these guys are getting tired. Our five starters have played a lot of minutes in these three games. So we’re looking for a day or two off.”

Oldham County looked a lot fresher in the second half than the Crimsons. Manual made too many mental careless mistakes to stay in the ballgame, and the Colonels took advantage.

“We started missing shots when we got to the rim, and defensively I thought that we were slower rotating. We were careless with the ball. Due to fatigue, our minds were not as sharp, and that lead to some other mistakes. I know that we were fatigued, I probably asked more out of them than I should’ve, and I thought that Oldham County did a nice job of recognizing how to handle our pressure. They did a nice job and we didn’t make the proper adjustments.”

Throughout the season, Manual’s best offense has been forcing turnovers and getting easy buckets; however, the Crimsons were not able to consistently turnover the Colonels, and Manual struggled when they were forced to run their offense in the half court.

“We should’ve just been patient,” Rivers said. “We needed to slow the ball down and communicated more.”

After playing ten games in three weeks, the Crimsons will now have some time to rest before taking the floor again in nine days in the Middletown Holiday Classic.

“Well we’re going to get some days off but we got to get a couple of days in so that we can try to get better,” Just said. “So between now and when we play again we’ll have about three practice days, and then the rest of the time we’ll be off.”

Just chose to stay local with the Middletown Holiday Classic opposed to a bigger name, out-of-state tournament so that his team can avoid prolonged fatigue issues.

“We’re going to Eastern, so we’re staying local, which is probably a good thing because it’ll let these guys rest a little bit; we won’t have to be worried about doing all the traveling. It can be fun, but it can also wear you down, so right now will be a good break for us.”

Manual will play its first round game in the Middletown Holiday Classic on Tuesday, December 29, at Eastern High School. Opponent and tipoff time is yet to be determined.