MAN — The Man High School boys’ basketball team survived a 51-44 first round Class A sectional tournament game on Saturday night at the Man Memorial Fieldhouse over Montcalm.
Man (7-16) led from start to finish and now advance to play at Tug Valley on Tuesday night in the Class A sectional semifinals at Naugatuck.
The No. 1-ranked Panthers (19-3) beat the Billies twice in the regular season very handily by 82-49 and 86-49 scores. Tug Valley closed out the regular season with a 69-55 win over 3A Huntington on Feb. 19.
Man coach Harvey Arms was pleased with the win.
“We played well,” Arms said. “We had some slow spots at times but overall we played well and rebounded well. For the most part we were patient on offense and got good shots. The free throw line hurt us. We were only 15-for-30 from the free throw line for 50 percent.”
The Hillbillies were led by freshman John Thomas Keffer’s 20 points. His cousin Cayce Mullins had 12, while Clay Brumfield had eight, Jake Adkins five, Gage Harvey four and Kenny Joe Adkins two.
Montcalm (5-17) was led by Matt Pennington’s 15 points. Michael Blackwell had eight, Travis Duncan seven, Dustin Williams six, Jacob Howard five and Andrew Agee three.
The Billies were 17-for-44 shooting from the floor for 38.6 percent. Montcalm was 15-for-45 for 33.3 percent.
Man also won the battle of the boards, 33-27.
Keffer sank 6-of-8 free throws in the final minute of play to seal the win.
Man jumped out to an early 9-0 lead on baskets by Mullins and Keffer.
The Billies later built their lead back to 11 points at 21-10 with just 44 ticks to go in the first quarter. Pennington’s 3 with 29 seconds left cut Man’s lead to 21-13 after one quarter of play.
In the second quarter, a back door cut by freshman Kenny Joe Adkins made it 25-15 Man.
Montcalm cut it to 27-21 with 2:17 left after two free throws by Duncan and two more by Pennington.
Man then got a floater by Jake Adkins and a 3-pointer by Brumfield to push the Billies’ lead to 32-25 at the half.
In the third quarter, Keffer’s jumper opened the second half as Man led 34-25.
The Generals then went on a 7-0 run to close the gap to 34-32, forcing Arms to call timeout.
Keffer then answered with a 14-foot shot to make it 36-32. Brumfield followed with a 3-ball with three seconds on the clock as Man took a 39-32 lead after three quarters of play.
Montcalm didn’t quit, however, as the Generals scored two buckets to make it a 39-36 ballgame.
Mullins then stepped up big and made two key baskets as the Billies led 43-36 with 3:43 to play.
Keffer then added two critical free throws to give Man a nine-point margin at 45-36 with 3:30 on the clock.
Blackwell hit a 3-pointer to make it 45-40 with 1:50 to go.
Keffer then hit six free throws in the final 1:20 to ice the game for Man as the Billies walked away with a hard fought 51-44 win.