It was semi-final night at the Manchester boys basketball sectional Friday with the Manchester Squires making their first appearance after a bye, playing the Oak Hill Golden Eagles, who were a winner over North Miami Tuesday. With Lewis Cass being eliminated from the tourney by Wabash Wednesday, Oak Hill was the state’s next pick to win the sectional. Evidently the Squires didn’t care what the state had to say as they stunned the sectional crowd with a 55-53 upset win over Oak Hill.
In game two Wabash and Northfield squared off in a county rival game. Northfield made it to Friday by topping Southwood in overtime, while Wabash got revenge over Lewis Cass. Halfway through the first quarter the Norse caught fire and never burned out, topping Wabash 87-61.
Getting the bye in the tournament the Squires had not played a game in a week which could work either way. The team would either be a little stale and out of rhythm or fresh legs and time to prepare would pay dividends. The dividends were paid in full.
Neil Underwood got the Squires on the board and gave them a 3-2 lead with a three pointer, which started an 11-3 run before the Eagles knew what hit them. Clayton Petrie and Claudell Dickantone hit twice during the run. With the Squires up 11-3, Oak Hill scored the last 4 points of the quarter and Manchester led 11-7 after one.
It took two and a half minutes before a point was scored in the second quarter. Oak Hill eventually tied the score at 13 and it would be tied two more times before the Eagles took the lead. The two teams would trade the lead four times before Underwood hit back to back buckets to put the Squires up 27-24. With 2 seconds left Oak Hill hit to cut the Manchester lead to 27-26 at the half.
Behind Clayton Petrie and Neil Underwood the Squires maintained a three point lead for the first five and a half minutes of the third quarter. The Eagles kept close and cut the lead to 38-37 before Claudell Dickantone hit. After an Oak Hill bucket Manchester led 41-39 with a quarter to go.
Just like the first three quarters, neither team was going to run away from the other. Oak Hill hit a three pointer two minutes in to the quarter to take a 42-41 lead before Branden Scott answered with a three to put Manchester back up 44-42. The Eagles built a 49-46 lead when Underwood hit from behind the arch again to knot the score with 1:40 to play. Oak Hill went up 51-49 when Clayton Petrie connected from three to put Manchester back up 52-51. With 50.5 on the clock Oak Hill converted two free throws to lead 53-52. The Squires called time out to set up a play, then ran the clock down to 18.5, calling another time out. With Oak Hill thinking a two would tie the game, the Squires were thinking win the game. Manchester worked the ball and the clock, finally finding freshman Chase Firestos behind the arch, wide open on the right side. Fierstos let the rainbow fly, finding nothing but net and giving the Squires a 55-53 lead with .7 left on the clock. The Eagles attempted a full court out of bounds pass to get a shot, but the pass went sailing out of bounds, giving the ball back to the Squires, who in bounded the pass to win the game and advance to the championship game Saturday.
Leading the Squires was Neil Underwood with 21 points. Clayton Petrie added 17, Claudell Dickantone 5, Branden Scott 5, Chase Fierstos 3, Branden Sewell 2, Lucas Schilling 2.
In game two it looked like another dog fight was in the making. Ryan Keaffaber would score the first bucket of the game with Breyton Nealis answering. A Tyler King three gave the Apaches a 5-2 lead when Adam Roser and Keaffaber gave the Norse a 6-5 lead. After Tyler Brewer and Tanner Wilcox hit the Norse led 8-7 when Andrew Adamson drained back to back three pointers to put Wabash back up 13-8. The Norse would then figure out the Wabash press, with the Apaches going cold at the same time as Northfield went on a 12-0 run, hitting several layups to open a 20-13 lead. Jon Richardson scored 6 of the 12 Norse points during the run. Cody Clemons hit to stop the Norse run before Wilcox hit a two and Keaffaber banked in a three at the buzzer to give Northfield a 25-15 first quarter lead.
Wabash would cut the Northfield lead to 27-19 early in the second before the second major Northfield run came. The Norse got a bucket from Keaffaber that started an 11-0 run to double up on the Apaches 38-19. Northfield had four different players score during the run. After two Breyton Nealis free throws made it 38-21, the Norse would out score the Apaches 10-5 the last three minutes to lead 48-26 at the half.
After a Marcus Kroh bucket and two Collin Dawes free throws made it 52-26 to start the third quarter the two teams started trading buckets. With 3:56 on the clock the Norse had built their largest lead of the night at 58-33 before Cody King and Tyler Brewer hit to make it 58-37 with a quarter to go. Wabash out scored Northfield 11-10 in the quarter.
Breyton Nealis started the fourth quarter by converting a three point play before Collin Dawes scored the next four points to make it 62-40. Andrew Adamson would the hit his third three pointer of the night to cut the lead under 20 at 62-43. With Wabash launching three’s trying to catch up, then fouling the Norse capitalized at the free throw line, as the two teams put up 53 points in the fourth quarter with Northfield prevailing 87-61.
Leading Northfield was Collin Dawes with 19 points. Jon Richardson added 15, Ryan Keaffaber 14, Tanner Wilcox 14, Adam Roser 9, Carter Frieden 6, Marcus Kroh 6, Noah Shear 4.
For Wabash Breyton Nealis led with 14 points. Tyler King added 12, Andrew Adamson 9, Christian Hall 7, Codi Clemons 4, Tyler Brewer 4, Cody King 4, Jordan Blair 3, Taylor Vigar 2, Grant Sailors 2.