MANILA, Daggett County — Three times, the Manila Mustangs have played with fire and each time they walked away unscathed.
Their latest bout came Wednesday night in their 56-52 non region victory over Mount Vernon, and Manila coach Scott Taylor hopes his team has learned its lesson.
"This was a tough game. We got up on them a bit and relaxed," Taylor said. "Now we know we can't relax on anybody."
Besides Wednesday's contest, the Mustangs (5-4) held off Salt Lake Lutheran in overtime after holding considerable lead. And Altamont pulled close before Manila went on to win by 15. On other occasions, like in their loss to No. 2 Tabiona, Manila was within striking distance near the end, but came up empty.
"We've had some tough losses when we were right in the game," Taylor said. "It was good to be in a tough game here and come out on the positive side."
Manila led by 15 points heading into the final quarter but turned the ball over 11 times allowing the Patriots (2-7) to work their way back. Those turnovers were a result of Mount Vernon pressure that was virtually ineffective in the third quarter.
The Patriots, who forced four Manila turnovers and a missed shot on its first five possessions of the quarter, pecked away at the lead.
Tristan Lawyer, who scored 12 of his career-high 20 points in the fourth, pulled the Patriots to within three at 48-45 with a 2-and-1 with 2:33 left in the game. They had two chances to tie the score with 3-pointers but couldn't convert.
Manila's Jeremy Catron and Jeff Catron combined to hit 6 of 7 free throws in the final minutes. Jeremy Catron finished with team-high 15 points, Jeff Catron had 13 and Jeff Kippen had nine points in what Taylor called a team effort.
"If we only have one in double-figures its okay because it means everyone else stepped up," he said.
With the game tied 2-2 Jeremy Catron and Jeff Catron started the Mustangs on a 12-2 run to take a 14-5 lead. The Patriots trimmed the lead to three points early in the second quarter, but scored only four points in the final 5:51 of the half. The Mustangs led 28-19 at the half.
Mount Vernon failed to score in the last 4:06 of the third quarter, and then made the run in the fourth. Mount Vernon coach Scott Lambson said his team needs to maintain its intensity for the entire game, not just at the end.
"When the fans start getting interested and the game is one the line we play with that energy. But when the game is yet to be decided we let the other team push us up the floor," Lambson said. "If we would have played with that energy in the first half (it could have been different)."
Lawyer led the Patriots with 20 and Dave Lambson had 15. Mike Symkoviak, who averages 15 a game Mount Vernon, sprained his ankle 15 seconds into the game and played sparingly until the fourth quarter when the Patriots made their run. He finished with eight points.