MANNING -- Remember the Titans, indeed!
Laurence Manning Academy welcomed new SCISA Region III-3A member Trinity-Byrnes, a school making the move up this season from the 2A ranks, to Bubba Davis …
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Laurence Manning Academy welcomed new SCISA Region III-3A member Trinity-Byrnes, a school making the move up this season from the 2A ranks, to Bubba Davis Gymnasium on Tuesday in the region opener for both teams and it was the two Titan varsity squads that came away with comfortable wins over their Swampcat counterparts.
T-B raced to a 44-23 halftime lead on the strength of seven 3-pointers and held on down the stretch for a 65-52 win in boys play.
While the fireworks came early for the Titan boys, it was a 21-4 third-quarter run that propelled the Lady Titans to a 60-44 victory over the Lady Swampcats.
LMA boys head coach Will Epps could not explain his team's slow start and sluggish first half play.
"I don't know why we were so sluggish tonight," said Epps, whose team dropped to 5-9 overall. "It was really an abysmal first half effort wise, and if we're going to compete with anybody we've got to find a way to increase effort level."
The roles reversed somewhat in the second half as the Swampcats' effort level picked up while the Titans appeared to be sluggish and trying to find themselves on offense. After a Nick Ford bucket to open the half pushed the T-B lead to 46-23 , LMA went on a 15-4 run to pull within 12, 50-38. The Titans closed on a 7-2 run to take a 57-40 lead into the final quarter, with Justus Boone having three rebound and follow chances but unable to get the shot to fall on any at the end of the period.
"We played with more effort in the second half, and of course when a team has got a big lead sometimes they'll come out lackadaisical," Epps said. "It was a great opportunity, and we had chances to cut it to single digits. We had three possessions that they don't do what they need to do offensively and gives us an opportunity, then we don't capitalize. The second half, when we increased our effort, we had several situations where the ball just didn't bounce our way, and that happens. But if you play faster and harder in the first half, it's not as big of a deficit to try to overcome. We just came out flat (in the first half), and that's on the coaches. Somehow in our preparation we have to find a way to get them ready to play."
The Swampcats would get no closer than the final 13-point margin in the final quarter, with Brewer Brunson and Umar Lawson scoring the game's final two baskets to trim that margin from what had been a 17-point Titans advantage.
With his teammates struggling to get on track offensively after the break, it was Jordan Jones that carried the Titans to victory, scoring 15 of T-B's 21 second-half points. Jordan, who lead all scorers with 23 points, was responsible for all seven points in T-B's 7-2 run to close the third.
Ford added 18 for the Titans, who advanced to 9-7 overall.
Lawson led the Swampcats with 13 points while Brunson closed with 11 points and four assists. Jake Jordan dished out six assists along with two points and Boone ended with 10 rebounds and eight points.
The Lady Cats led 15-14 after one quarter but trailed by one, 24-23, heading into the half. An Audrey Bennett bucket to open the second half and Katherine Burns connecting on the back end of a 2-shot foul by LMA up by two, 26-24, before the Lady Titans began their big run to take a 45-30 lead.
The Lady Cats, now 7-5 overall, closed the third with Burns and Lexi Bennett hitting both ends of 2-shot fouls to cut eh lead to 11, the beginning of what would be a 9-0 run. A Lexi Bennett three would cut the lead to six, 45-39, with 6:59 to go, and Bennett would hit another three, this one with 5:11 on the clock, to pull LMA within five, 47-42. That would prove to be the closest the Lady Cats would get as the Lady Titans, now 5-5, closed on a 13-2 run.
Lexi Bennett led all scorers with 26 while Teighlor Buchanan hit for 22, followed by Carolina Tatum with 17 and Chase Hayes with 14, for T-B.
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