Friday Night Lights made a transition from the gridiron to the hardwood, but the intensity remained the same with New Manchester earning a sweep over Villa Rica in a pair of Region 5-5A games. The girls opened things up with a 50-37 win. In the second match, the boys won, 65-57.
Every win on the court is significant, but a win against a former ally enhances the sense of euphoria.
Such was the case for James Bailey as the Jaguars’ new head coach led his team to a win over the Wildcats. Bailey is a native of the Carroll County town and spent several years teaching and coaching at Villa Rica High School prior to taking the job at New Manchester.
“It was a hard-fought win. I knew they [Villa Rica] were going to come here and fight,” said Bailey. “I told the guys, it’s not my game, it’s your game. You guys go out and play the way you’re supposed to. There was a lot of hype because I’m from there, but we handled it very well.”
At times, the contest looked more like an indoor track meet than a basketball game with each team turning missed shots into a sprint to the other end of the floor. Both squads also had their share of sloppy ball handling and turnovers. Nevertheless, when push came to shove, New Manchester made just enough plays to walk off its home floor with its arms raised in victory.
The Jags trailed 31-25 at the break, but exploded in the third quarter, dropping 20 points in the stanza to go up 46-45 heading to the fourth quarter.
In the fourth, New Manchester settled down on the miscues and hit some critical foul shots to earn the win. The outcome was still in question with the Jags holding on to a 54-51 lead with 4:00 on the clock. However, the continuous sloppy play caught up with Villa Rica and New Manchester outscored its opponent 11-6 down the stretch run of the ballgame.
“We played better in the half court and started to run the whole offense in its entirety. We found some things that worked for us and we got some easy baskets,” said Bailey.
Tabashi Thomas led the way with a game-high 14 points. Clinton Bentley III added 13 points and Greg Ringer contributed with 10 for the evening.
The Villa Rica and New Manchester girls are mirror images of one another, so in a stare down match, everything boils down to which team blinks first.
In the end, the Lady Jaguars displayed the stronger glance and defeated the visiting Lady Wildcats, 50-38.
New Manchester’s stern look reached its peak in the fourth quarter. The Lady Jags’ narrow four-point edge of 29-25 at the start of the frame quickly ballooned to double figures midway in the quarter as New Manchester cruised to the win.
“We created some matchup problems and we took advantage of them,” said head coach Vincent Parks. “I told the girls, if we keep them off the boards, we’ll get this win. We kept them off the boards and that helped us on the offensive end.”
Deesha Brefford had a dominating performance and led all scorers with 23 points. Jalysia Glover and Taiylar Hibbard had nine points respectively.