“It’s truly an emotional win,” said Cline. “Many of these kids were on my team when I coached middle school. They’re all my kids.”
The teams battled throughout the first half of play fairly evenly. During the 1st quarter, the action was fast paced with each team answering their opponent’s score with one of their own. Man gained the advantage at the end of the 2nd quarter with a three-point buzzer beater by Tyler Browning to make the score 21-19, giving Man a two-point lead into halftime.
In the third, the Lions broke away from the Billies on a series of five straight scores, two scores by Kyle Smith and one long three by Dalton Bailey and jumped to a 10 point lead on Man almost out of nowhere.
Man battled back from the deficit in the 4th quarter and with less than two minutes left in the game, took back the lead from Gilbert with a three-pointer and jumper in 9 seconds by Man’s Tyler Browning to make the score 48-47.
After a missed foul shot by Man’s Jordan Simpson, Gilbert’s Cody Houck played more like a running back than a point guard and weaved around Man’s defenses to bring the ball down court. Houck caught a friendly rim after slipping in close and gave Gilbert the 1-point advantage with 7.6 seconds remaining in the game. Man tried valiantly to score on their next possession, but just couldn’t get the ball to drop and the clock ran out.
“We didn’t take advantage of our opportunity at the end,” said Man Head Coach Harvey Arms. “We fought hard to get back into the game, but we didn’t take care of our opportunity and the lay-up didn’t fall.”
Man had beaten Gilbert twice previously in the regular season, the first win coming at Gilbert 67-53 and the second win at their home, 70-52.
Cline commented on the cooperative effort Gilbert gave simply by saying, “it’s a team now” and commended all his players
Gilbert’s Kyle Smith tied for the game high score, racking up 18 points for the Lions and sank 6 of his 6 free throws. Ryan Altizer had 16 points, Cody Houck scored 8, Dalton Bailey scored 5 points, and Chris Carter scored 2 for the Lions.
Jordan Simpson led Man in scoring and tied for the game high with 18 points and sank 4 three-pointers throughout the game. Tyler Browning scored 16 points for the Billies, 9 of which came off his 3 three-point baskets. Ryan Crum scored 7 point for Man, Travis Hurley scored 5 points, and T.J. Hooker got on the board with 2.