Squandered chances end Manual’s season against Eastern

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Tim Comstock (12, #24) drives to the basket. comstock was the epitome of Manual’s attacking offense. Photo by Piper Cassetto.

Jack Grossman

Tim Comstock (12, #24) drives to the basket. comstock was the epitome of Manual's attacking offense. Photo by Piper Cassetto.
Tim Comstock (12, #24) drives to the basket. Comstock was the epitome of Manual’s attacking offense.
Photo by Piper Cassetto.

With 1:30 left in the game, Manual and Eastern were in a dog fight. The Eagles held a 44-43 lead with the ball, but after Marquis McClendon (12, #23) got a steal, the Crimsons had their chance to take their first lead since it was 31-30 early in the third quarter. McClendon grabbed the ball, drove into the lane and put up a layup, only to be blocked by Chance Moore (#11). However, Moore blocked the shot while the ball was already traveling down towards the rim, which should have been called a goaltending, which would have given Manual the lead.

“It’s not my call,” Manual Head Coach Jimmy Just said. “I can only deal with what I can deal with; that’s up to the officials.”

After the no-call, Brock Cassin (11, #40) tracked down the loose ball and called timeout. Manual would turn the ball over later in the possession.

“Our kids were just trying to make plays, and I think we were just excited,” Just said. “Our kids made some plays to put us into that position and we just kept trying to make plays. They gave a great effort and did their best. That’s all I can ask.”

Even after the goaltending no-call sequence, Manual had multiple chances to tie or take the lead, but the Crimsons were impatient on offense and forced shots.

“At the end when they had a slight lead, we broke down a little bit,” Manual center Noah Hawkins (10, #42) said. “We wanted to get back into the game quicker but we forced shots.”

Although Manual was down five with just over 30 seconds left, the Crimsons showed some heart to give itself one last chance to win the game after McClendon hit a three and Jo Aunn Rivers (12, #10) drew a charge. Manual was down just two points with the ball and 6.3 seconds left; however, Steven Gordon’s (12, #21) inbounds pass was tipped and stolen. With that steal, Manual’s season ended in a 52-46 loss to Eastern in the quarterfinals of the Region 7 tournament.

“We were just trying to get ourselves back into the game, but we didn’t realize how much time we had,” Gordon said. “We didn’t need to press, because we were only down two. We could’ve waited, but we rushed.”

The loss ended an up-and-down season for Manual (17-13). The Crimsons won seven of their first nine games, but went through a tough stretch in January where they lost six of eight games; however, Manual caught fire late in the season as they won six of their last eight regular season games including signature wins over St. X and Male in February. Manual’s strong finish made them a dark horse to win the Seventh Region tournament, something that the Crimsons have not accomplished since 1972.

“We did more than what people thought we were going to do at the beginning of the season,” Hawkins said. We weren’t expected to do anything. I know we didn’t get that far but we really made some statements in a few games.”

“I’m going to look at this group of guys as great young men that worked really hard,” Just said. “We worked through some adversity, had some good things happen as well as some things we had to work through. All in all, I think these guys came out on top and they worked their tails off. We were improving here at the end, and they played for each other, they cared about each other, and it was all about the team, not about the individuals. These guys are the ultimate team players.”