GEORGETOWN – It was a tight game throughout, but Georgetown got it done in the end.
The Georgetown varsity boys’ basketball team defeated Manning 53-47 at home on Tuesday, Jan. 14 to improve to 11-4 overall and 2-0 in Region VII-3A.
Georgetown tied the game up at 40-40 15 seconds into the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer from sophomore guard/forward Ty Richardson. The Bulldogs then built up a 5-point lead after a layup each from junior guard Quadrell Grant and Richardson and a free throw from sophomore forward/wing Isaiah Howell as part of an 8-0 run to take a 45-40 lead with 4:10 to go.
Manning senior guard/forward Leondria Nelson was able to stop the run by making a layup while getting fouled and subsequently making the free throw to cut the lead to 45-43 with 3:43 to go.
Georgetown senior guard Darrell Gardner extended the lead with a 3-pointer to make it 48-43 with 2:43 to go, but Manning senior power forward/center Aaron Smith answered with a jumper to cut it to 48-45 with 58 seconds left.
After the Monarchs got a steal, Nelson missed a 3-pointer and Manning was forced to foul Gardner.
Gardner made both shots from the line to balloon the Bulldogs’ lead up to 50-45 with 45 seconds to go.
After a missed layup from Manning junior point guard JaQuan Fletcher, the Monarchs were forced to foul Bulldogs junior guard Omar Mitchell. Mitchell missed the front end of a 1-and-1 at the free throw line and Manning took advantage with a layup from Fletcher with 22 seconds left to make it 50-47.
On Georgetown’s next possession, Manning got a steal but turned it right back over to Georgetown when Nelson’s pass to senior power forward Trenton Brown went right through Brown’s hands and out of play with 16 seconds to go.
Manning was once again forced to foul, and Howell missed the first free throw and made the second with 14 seconds left to extend the lead to 51-47.
Manning senior guard/forward Dejaun Felder missed a 3-pointer with five seconds remaining, and Manning was forced to foul once again.
Gardner hit two free throws with three seconds left as the icing on the cake.
“They fight got in them,” Georgetown head coach Alvin Walker said when asked how his team was able to win such a tightly-contested game. “If you’re a Bulldog, you’ve got to have fight in you. And I thought, we’ve been talking all year, you know, sometimes the shots might not be falling, but if you play defense on every possession and hustle every possession, you give yourself a chance and I think that’s what we did tonight until we finally got over the hump. I mean, because that was a great game.”
Walker had nothing but respect for Manning’s performance.
“I remember, and going back because I wasn’t coaching back then, the team from last year, the best game I saw them play all season was home against Manning,” he said. “And I knew Manning wasn’t going to forget that so I knew they were going to come and bring it tonight, and they did. That was a very, very good Manning team that we played tonight.”
Walker knows how important of a game this was for his team’s chances in the region.
“If we want a chance, any chance at all, of giving ourselves a chance to win the region, we’re going to have to take care of our home court,” Walker said. “We’re going to have to take care of our home court and that’s exactly what we did tonight. It was highly contested, but we took care of our home court.”
Gardner led Georgetown in scoring with 12 points and also added two rebounds and three assists. Senior shooting guard Ishmael Taylor had nine points, five rebounds, two assists and three steals, and Richardson added nine points, five rebounds and three assists. Also contributing were Howell with eight points, senior guard Jamari Geathers with seven points and senior forward Leon Washington with six points.
“I’m just proud of the guys and I’m proud of the coaching staff,” Walker said. “Everybody always talks everybody up, but you just aren’t going to be able to tell me that I don’t have one of the best coaching staffs in the state. Those guys come and put in work every day just like the players do, so I’d like to give all the credit to my players and my coaching staff.”
Nelson led Manning in scoring with 23 points, Fletcher added 11 and freshman point guard Justin Daniels added seven.
The loss dropped Manning to 9-6 overall and 1-1 in region play.
The Monarchs led the Bulldogs 17-15 at the end of the first quarter and 28-27 at the half.
Manning started off the third quarter on a 7-2 run that included two layups from Daniels and a 3-pointer from Nelson to make it 35-29 Monarchs with 4:11 to go in the quarter, but Georgetown went on an 8-2 run that included a jumper from Geathers, a layup from Taylor and a jumper and layup from Richardson to tie the game up at 37 apiece with 12 seconds to go in the quarter.
However, Nelson hit a 3-pointer right before the buzzer to put Manning up 40-37 heading into the fourth.
After playing at Hanahan on Friday, Jan. 17 and at Bishop England on Tuesday, Jan. 21, the Bulldogs will be back home on Friday, Jan. 24 to take on Academic Magnet at 8 p.m.
“If you want to have a chance to win this region, you’re going to have to be able to win games on the road,” Walker said. “We’re going to find out what we’re made of one game at a time.”
Manning will play at Bishop England on Friday, Jan. 24 at 8 p.m. after playing two home games against Waccamaw and Hanahan.