A basket by New Manchester’s Tyler Edwards with 4:01 to play in the boys game gave the visiting Jaguars a 56-54 advantage. From that point on, the Jaguars kept getting called for fouls and the Lions hit their free throws. Neil Phillips hit one free throw and Qunta Bedford hit four straight free throws during a seven-point streak by the Lions, putting LSHS ahead 61-56 with 2:33 remaining.
Nashon Dortch of New Manchester hit back-to-back baskets within 30 seconds, cutting the deficit to 61-60. After the Lions’ Daquan Huff connected on one of two from the charity stripe, Tyler Edward tied the game with a basket with 1:10 to play and Keymont Jenkins excited the NMHS fans, connecting on a free throw to put the Jags ahead with 0:43 left in the fourth quarter.
Lithia’s Phillips hit a driving layup but missed the ensuing free throw, giving the Lions the advantage with 27 seconds to play.
The Jaguars’ Tyler Edwards and Joe Boyer missed shots in the final 27 seconds that could have tied the game or gave their teams the lead as Lithia held on for the exciting victory.
The did not appear to be much of a contest in the early going as New Manchester dominated. Trailing 2-1 with under six minutes left in the first quarter, five different players scored during a 10-1 run to put the Jaguars ahead 11-3. At the end of the first period, the Jaguars were cruising, 13-8.
The Jags pushed the advantage to 17-8 before the Lions fought back. Huff hit a three and another jumper, pacing Lithia Springs to a 12-2 tear that saw the host Lions regain the lead at 20-18 with 4:16 left in the first half.
New Manchester hit a pair of threes late in the second quarter and fought back to lead 31-26 at the break.
The NMHS advantage was increased to 10 points (41-31 on a Dortch jumper with 5:00 to play in the third) but the Lions refused to quit. Trailing 43-33, the Lions used a balanced attack during a 13-3 run to close out the period with the two squads deadlocked at 46.
For the game, the Lions went 24-for-35 from the charity stripe while the Jaguars finished 7-for-15.
For the Lions, a trio of players scored in double digits. Phillips scored a team-high 14 points with seven coming in the fourth quarter. The LSHS bench showed depth as Huff (13 points) and Bedford (10) both came off the bench to score much needed points.
Boyer finished with 15 points to lead the Jaguars while Jenkins (14) and Dortch (13) round out the leading scorers.
In the opener, the Lady Lions put a statement on the game quickly. Lithia Springs took advantage of its size and experience advantage to score the first 10 points of the game and 16 of the first 20. Post player Selena Crammie dumped in eight points, mostly off put backs, during the quarter as Lithia led 19-9 at the end of the first period.
Lithia Springs continued to ramp up its full court pressure defense in the second period. The Lady Jaguars had no chance as Lithia opened the period on a 22-0 run. Tobreshia Horn scored 10 points during the period to lead her Lady Lions to a 43-13 lead at halftime.
The margin of victory stayed fairly constant throughout the third quarter as Lithia Springs led 59-22 heading into the shortened fourth quarter.
Horn finished with a night-high 21 points while Tashara Jones and Crammie both added 13 points in the winning effort. New Manchester was paced by Alyssa Harris’s 11 points while Deshanna Smith finished with nine.