On the strength of some strong three-point shooting, it was the Manchester Greyhounds capturing the third place trophy in the 2013 McDonald’s Classic, knocking off the North Adams Green Devils 48-38 in a low-scoring consolation game on Dec. 27 at West Union High School.
“All three of our seniors are out and so we just move to our freshman and some sophomores to step up,” said Manchester head coach Aaron Lockhart. “Our kids have been coming in and working hard.”
“The experience they are getting at the varsity level is valuable for these kids. With our numbers, we really have no choice but to move these kids up and let them play.”
This third-place battle began with the pace of a pair of turtles in a race as both teams sat back in zone defenses and the two teams combined for just six points in the game’s first five minutes. The Greyhounds broke that drought in a major way as they found the range from long distance, a good way to beat a zone, and got a three-point goal from Colton Thornburg and two more from Austin Smith to take a 13-6 lead after one quarter of play.
“I thought our defense did a pretty good job of bottling them up tonight,” added Lockhart. “There are still things we need to work on and moving forward we will do that.”
After sleepwalking through the first eight minutes, the Green Devils showed signs of life as period number two progressed. North Adams began the stanza with baskets from Hank Sparks and Blake Bradley that cut the Manchester lead down to 14-12. Smith answered with his third trey of the game for the Hounds and a later pair of Sean Frost free throws pushed the Manchester lead back to five at 19-14.
After a put back by North Adams’ Cole Meade kept the gap at five, the final points of the first half came on another three from Thornburg and the Greyhounds raced to the locker room with a 24-16 advantage.
The slow scoring pace continued after the intermission with the Devils opening with another Cole Meade basket on their first possession and a three from Devin Gardner on their second, a welcome sight for North Adams fans as Gardner was seeing his first action of the season after being sidelined by an injury. With 5:10 left in the third, Sparks hit along three and the Devils had quickly drawn within two, trailing just 26-24.
That was the final time the Devils found the bottom of the net in the third quarter as the Greyhounds closed out the frame on an 8-0 run. Two baskets from Thornburg, one from Frost, and another from Phillip Thomas sent Manchester to the final quarter with a double digit lead at 34-24.
The fourth quarter evolved into a long distance shootout with three pointers raining from both sides, especially from the boys in blue and gold. After Gardner opened the quarter with his second and third treys of the game, the Hounds answered with back to back threes from Smith and Frost that stretched their lead to 42-30 and forced North Adams coach Nathan Copas to burn a timeout to stop the bleeding. The bleeding only paused momentarily, however, as Manchester got yet another three, this time from Thomas and the Hounds were in the driver’s seat, leading 45-32 with less than two minutes to go.
A baseline drive and score by Smith pushed the lead to 15 with 1:10 remaining and even though the Devils finished the game on a 6-1 run, it was far too late as the Hounds picked up their third win of the season and captured the McDonald’s Classic third place trophy with a 48-38 triumph.
“Any time you can get a win over a county team, that’s great,” said Coach Lockhart. “Coach Copas does a great job with his kids and it was a hard-fought game by both teams but any time we can get a win, we’ll take it.”
The Greyhounds fired in eight three-pointers in the game, half of them by Austin Smith who led the team with 14 points. In one of his best all-around games of the season, sophomore Sean Frost scored 13 as did freshman Colton Thornburg. Phillip Thomas added 7 for the winners, who improved their record to 3-5 on the year.
North Adams fell to 2-5 on the season and was led in scoring by Blake Bradley with 12 points. The bad news is that Bradley suffered a wrist injury late in the game and may have to miss some time. In his return to the court, Devin Gardner scored 9 points, all on three-pointers and the quickly improving Cole Meade added 8.
Both teams return to the court soon, with the Hounds having the weekend off off before hitting the road to face the high-scoring Fayetteville Rockets in Southern Hills Athletic Conference action on Saturday night. The Devils go right into the SHAC fire on Friday night when they welcome to town those same high-flying Rockets . Saturday night will be Homecoming as the Devils play host to Miami Trace.
13 11 10 14 —48
6 10 8 14 —38
Manchester (48): Aldridge 0 0-2 0, Freeman 0 1-2 1, Thronburg 5 1-2 13, Frost 5 2-2 13, Thomas 3 0-0 7,
Smith 5 0-0 14, Team 18 4-8 48.
N. Adams (38): Bradley 6 0-0 12, Sparks 2 0-0 5, Gardner 3 0-2 9, Gingerich 1 0-2 2, T. Meade 1 0-0 2, C. Meade 4 0-0 8,
Team 17 0-4 38.
Three-Point Goals: Manchester- Thornburg 2, Frost 1, Thomas 1, Smith 4
N. Adams- Sparks 1, Gardner 3