Beating a team three times in a season can be difficult when it comes to the 1A state tournament, but the Manila Mustangs pulled it off against region rival Tabiona in a 52-38 encounter Friday afternoon.
“We just feel fortunate we ended up on the right side,” said Mike Hughes, who is in his sixth year of coaching the Mustangs.
Scoring for both teams was slow to warm up, as Manila established a slight 5-3 edge in the first quarter. However, Tabiona was able to jump ahead before halftime, thanks in part to some 3-pointers from Chance Lazenby and Lawson Curry.
“Tabiona is probably by far the best coached team in the state,” Hughes said. “We knew they had a great group of young kids and that coach Gines would have them ready.”
Manila was able to wrestle the lead back in the third quarter, with key buckets from Kyler Hughes and Tuck Davis. Hughes ended up as the Mustangs’ top scorer with 14 points.
The Mustangs built the lead to as much as 11 points with less than five minutes to go in the game.
That’s when Lex Giles hit a pair of 3-pointers for Tabiona, pulling the Tigers to within six points. Just as he was getting on a hot streak, Giles fouled out.
With less than three minutes to go, Tabiona did whatever it could to stop the clock and get the ball back.
“They definitely wanted to play the foul game that last couple of minutes, as anyone would in that situation,” Hughes said. “Fortunately our kids stepped up and shot well from the line. That can go the other way really quick and easy. We’ll take it.”
In the final stanza. Manila went 10 of 12 from the foul line, which helped expand the gap and secure the win.
“I would say the game today was probably our most balanced scoring effort that we’ve had all year,” Hughes said. “It was really a balanced effort both defensively and offensively.”
As the tournament continues, Hughes said he is working to keep his team focused in the final stretch.
“We are trying to find gym space, walk through some things and keep away from the distractions, and there are quite a few at the state tournament,” Hughes said.
Manila is now pitted against Piute in the 8:30 p.m. semifinal game Friday. No. 2 seed Piute blasted Diamond Ranch 80-48 in the other quarterfinal.