Western rallies from behind for a 59-54 victory –
Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –
It’s not an easy task to have a season opener on the road against a team that reached the Elite Eight in the state of Ohio last season, but that was the task facing first-year head coach Joey Darnell and his Manchester Greyhounds last Friday night as they boarded the bus and made their way to Latham to battle the Western Indians. Fresh off their long postseason run last year in Division IV, the Indians are considered favorites to be back in the same position, but for 31 minutes and 20 seconds on Friday night, they were in real danger of losing their opener to the upstart Hounds.
The Greyhounds are a talented and athletic team themselves, and they showed that at Western on Friday, coming out of the gate hitting on all cylinders on both ends of the court, building a lead that at its apex reached 15 points in the second quarter, but unfortunately after putting up 38 points in an explosive first half, the Hounds could only muster 16 in the second, and only six in the decisive fourth quarter, where the Indians took their first lead of the game with just 40 seconds left and hung on for a 59-54 come-from-behind win.
“We just had too many unforced turnovers, I think we finished with 29 in the game,” said Coach Darnell. “We had two different teams. The first half we came out clicking on all cylinders and had our bench played well when we got in foul trouble. I told them at halftime that I was worried about coming out flat in the third quarter and that is exactly what we did.”
I felt good coming into this game and thought if we played to our potential we’d get out of here with a win. It turned into a dogfight and we came out on the short end.”
The night began well for the Greyhounds as they grabbed an early 11-6 advantage on the strength of a pair of Kaulen Cox three-pointers and an old-fashioned three-point play from Colton Thornburg. The half court pressure defense caused headaches for the host Indians who were plagued by turnovers in the opening eight minutes, but still managed to pull within 12-10 on a pair of Tanner Perdue free throws at the 1:57 mark, but the Hounds closed the opening stanza on a 6-0 run, getting a jumper from Mason Bilyeu, another Cox trey, and a Thornburg free throw to lead 18-10 after one.
After the Indians notched the first two buckets of the second period, the Greyhounds put together their best stretch of the evening, first scoring seven points in just 39 seconds, with a bucket from Shaun Gould, Cox’s fourth three of the half, and a steal and score by Bilyeu that made it 25-14 and forced Western coach Kyle Miller into a quick timeout.
After the timeout, the Hounds got baskets from Thornburg and Cox to cap an 11-0 run and give them a 29-14 lead with five minutes to go until halftime. After taking that punch, the Indians answered with six straight of their own to cut the margin back to single digits and a later long-distance bomb from Cox put the lead back at 11 at 36-25. The home team rallied back to within 36-30, but the Hounds took back the momentum heading into the break when Bilyeu made a nice steal near midcourt and hit a layup at the buzzer to give his squad an eight-point halftime lead.
As productive as they were in the first half, the Greyhounds were just the opposite in the second half, struggling to score, especially after Cox went to the bench with his fourth foul in the third quarter. The good thing for the visitors was the the Indians were also having trouble putting up points, as the two sides combined for just six points in the first four minutes of the second half. A nice tip-in by Bryan Young kept the Hounds in front 44-36, but a three-point goal by Western’s Broc Jordan, plus buckets by Alex Humphrey and Land Brewster left the Manchester lead at five, 48-43, moving into the final eight minutes of action.
Again, offense was at a premium as the fourth quarter began with nothing changing on the scoreboard until Jordan hit a putback basket to draw the Indians within three. At the 5:58 mark. Twenty seconds later, Jordan scored again and suddenly what had earlier been a 15-point lead for Manchester had been sliced to just a single point at 48-47.
A three from the corner by Thornburg gave the Hounds some breathing room and two later free throws by Young kept the lead at four, 53-49 with four minutes to play, but that was the high water mark for the Hounds, who only managed one point the rest of the game, a Thornburg free throw with 3:09 to play.
Meanwhile, the battle-tested Indians took command, getting a basket by Perdue to tie the game at 54 with 1:57 to go on the clock. Manchester’s Gould had a chance to break the deadlock with 1:16 left but missed a pair of free throws, and then with 40 seconds to go, a steal and layup by Perdue gave Western its first lead of the game at 56-54. The Hounds turned it over and Perdue hit two from the charity stripe to put Western ahead by two baskets. The Hounds coughed it up again, but luckily saw the Indians miss two from the line, but Manchester’s Jamie Combs missed a three and the Indians sealed the deal with a Bryce Brewster free throw and escaped a huge scare in their home opener with the comeback 59-54 triumph.
In the loss, the Greyhounds were led by Cox’s 17 points, all of which came in the first half. Thornburg added 16, with Young and Bilyeu chipping in 6 apiece. The Indians were led by Perdue’s 18 points and placed two more players in double figures, Lane Brewster with 13 and Bryce Brewster with 11.
“We depend on Kaulen a lot and when he’s hot he’s hot,” said Darnell. “But tonight he sat most of the third and fourth quarter because of foul trouble and that hurt us.”
With the tough loss at Western still fresh in their minds, the Greyhounds faced a quick turnaround and another monumental task as they crossed the Ohio River on Saturday to the floor at the Fieldhouse where they faced off with the Mason County Royals, who handed the Hounds a 75-38 thumping as Manchester shot just 29% from the field. Cox again led Greyhound scorers with 17 points as the blue and gold fell to a quick 0-2 on the season.
Looking to right the ship this week, the Hounds hosted Portsmouth West on Tuesday night and then will travel to Fayetteville on Friday for their first Southern Hills Athletic Conference battle of the season.
Manchester 18 20 10 6 –54
Western 10 20 13 16 –59
Manchester (54): Gould 2 1-4 5, Aldridge 2 0-0 4, Thornburg 5 5-8 16, Bilyeu 3 0-0 6, Young 2 2-2 6, Cox 6 0-0 17, Team 20 8-14 54.
Western (59): Humphrey 2 0-0 4, Woods 0 2-2 2, Perdue 4 10-15 18, L. Brewster 5 2-4 13, Jordan 4 0-1 9, B. Brewster 5 3-4 13, Team 20 17-26 59.
Manchester (6): Cox 5, Thornburg 1
Western (2): L. Brewster 1, Jordan 1
In the JV contest, a familiar face was on the sideline of Western in coach Kyle Pertuset, who was the head man of the Greyhound varsity last season. Pertuset and his troops didn’t fare too well as Coach Josh Hamm and the Greyhounds handed them a 33-13 lashing. The winning Greyhounds were led by 12 points from Logan Hanson and 6 from Ethan Pennywitt.