The Manchester boys basketball team was hosting Tippecanoe Valley Friday and it was more than just another game. Valley was bringing a 3-0 conference record into the game with the Squires needing a win to draw even in the loss column for the TRC lead. Top that with Valley being the former home of Chainey Zolman, plus Chase Fierstos getting his first start since being injured just two games into the season and the Squires were flying sky high.
Perhaps flying a little to high the first half the Squires trailed 32-19 at the half before a thrilling second half comeback gave Manchester a 56-51 win.
Valley quickly led 3-0 before a Zolman bucket and two Koehl Fluke free throws had the Squires trailing just 5-4 when things unraveled a bit. Valley would score 8 straight to grab a 13-4 lead halfway through the quarter as the Squires didn’t score again until the 2:52 mark when Cameron Brandenburg drained a three pointer that was followed by a Zolman free throw and a Braydon Sewell bucket to cut the Valley lead to 13-10 by the end of the first quarter.
The two teams would trade buckets to start the second quarter and with Valley up 17-14 the Vikings would go on a 10-0 run to grab a 27-14 lead. Keelan Norwood stopped the run with a bucket before the Vikings scored 5 straight to extend their lead to 32-16. Chase Fierstos would end the half converting a three point play as Valley led 32-19 at the half.
Regrouping and perhaps calming down a little at the half the Squires came out in the third with a straight face and meant business. David McAtee and Chainey Zolman would hit back to back to start the quarter and after a Valley bucket Chase Fierstos would score 4 straight to get the Viking lead to single digits at 35-27. Valley would hit again when McAtee sank a free throw followed by a Chainey Zolman three point play to make it 37-31. A Valley three point play made it 40-31 before Koehl Fluke hit two free throws and Chase Fierstos a bucket to make it 40-35 with a quarter to go.
The game had the feeling that if the Squires could ever grab the lead the momentum would carry them through. Chainey Zolman scored the first bucket of the quarter but the Vikings answered with 5 straight points to make it 45-37 when the Squires caught fire. Zolman would hit again and after some key free throws from Chase Fierstos the Viking lead was 45-43. Valley would make it 47-43 when the noise level in the gym reached its peak. Chase Fierstos would draw the Squires to within one on a homer to make it 47-46 and was followed by David McAtee matching Fierstos as the Squires grabbed the lead 49-47. Fierstos would hit a again to make it 51-47 off a Branden Scott steal and it was game on with 2:00 to play. Valley would hit two free throws and foul with 1:00 left, but two missed free throws had the Vikings in position to tie or take the lead. The Squires defense held with Koehl Fluke scoring on the other end to make it 53-49. The fouling game continued by the Vikings with Fierstos hitting a free throw for a 54-49 lead with 10.3 remaining. The two teams traded free throws as the Squires held on for the 56-51 thriller.
Leading Manchester was Chase Fierstos with 23 points. Chainey Zolman added 12, Koehl Fluke 8, David McAtee 6, Cameron Brandenburg 3, Braydon Sewell 2, Keelan Norwood 2.
Manchester won the junior varsity game 52-27.
Leading the Squires was Braxtin Wilson with 12 points. Adam Byers added 11, Bailey Ness 9, Jake Schannep 7, Kane Gable 4, Levi Hicks 4, Heath Dierks 3, Nathan Self 2.