The holiday season is a joyous time of glad tidings and giving. However, the host Jaguars passed out lumps of coal as stocking stuffers to Carver-Atlanta following a 77-29 crushing of the Panthers in the first-round action of the third annual New Manchester Holiday Classic on Saturday.
The Jaguars followed up the dominating win with a 65-58 victory over Hapeville Charter on Monday to advance to the title game, which was held on Tuesday. Information was not available by deadline but a recap of the championship will be available in Friday’s paper.
New Manchester wasted little time jumping out on Carver.
“I’m very pleased with our guys’ effort. They played together as a unit and that’s one of the main things we’ve been stressing to them,” said NMHS head coach James Bailey. “I want them to get the understanding that this is our house. We have to start setting the standard, especially at home. You have to hold your own at home.”
The Jags were on fire from the opening tip, beginning the game on a 7-0 run. New Manchester would go on to lead 20-9 at the end of the first quarter. Carver was held in single digits until just over six minutes remaining on the clock in the second quarter, but by this point, it was already evident which school had the superior squad on the floor.
The holiday jollies continued for New Manchester with Carver scoring a mere two points on a pair for foul shots in the third quarter.
New Manchester played perhaps its most well-rounded game of the season from a scoring standpoint. A host of Jags filled the box score with impressive stats.
Clinton Bentley III led all scorers with 19 points. Aaron Reddick was next on the list with 16 points. Tyler Edwards followed up by dropping 13 points.
Following Saturday’s lopsided victory over lowly Carver-Atlanta, New Manchester returned to the floor Monday night to face stiffer competition in Hapeville Charter.
The Jags withstood a valiant effort from the Hornets and pulled out a 65-58 win to advance to the championship game of this seasonal tournament.
“We stressed to our guys about heart. They got tested and they stepped it up to a higher level. This is a definition of character,” Bailey said. “I appreciate them for the effort. We took their biggest blow. But everything goes back to heart.”
New Manchester had its hands full in this tilt with Hapeville Charter.
Although the first quarter featured a host of turnovers and several questionable shots from both clubs, the Jags managed to pull ahead 15-4.
However, in the second quarter, the Hornets swarmed back with a barrage of baskets to draw even with a 24-24 halftime score.
New Manchester rallied in the third to go up 45-34, but in this game, no lead was safe and the final outcome would come down to final minutes.
Just as it did in the second quarter, the Hornets found a groove in the fourth and clawed back up the scoreboard. The visitors cut the deficit to 60-58 after Nicholas Tolbert drained a crowd-silencing 3-pointer with just over two minutes remaining on the clock. However, that would be as close as it would get for the Hornets. New Manchester kept its opposition at bay for the remainder of the game to earn the hard-fought win.
“It was a tough game,” said Tyler Edwards, who dropped a game-high 18 points. “We didn’t play too well in the first half and gave up a big lead. We missed a lot of free throws, but we fought through the adversity for the win.”
Along with Edwards, New Manchester received a big boost from Bentley, who scored 16 points and Tabashi Thomas, who contributed with 11.
The only negative for the second game of the tourney came from the free throw line. The Jags shot an abysmal 12 of 27 [44 percent] from the charity strip against Hapeville Charter.
“We’ve had our woes at the line this year. We have to work harder on our free throws. We can’t leave points on the floor,” said Bailey.
The level of competition was raised to a higher degree for the Jags when they took on Kennesaw Mountain for the tourney title at 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Both teams are arguably the best clubs in the field and have aspirations for a deep playoff run at season’s end.
Among the other schools participating in the tournament were Riverwood, Northgate, Hapeville, Therrell, SW DeKalb and Clarkston. Both SW DeKalb and Clarkston agreed to split games in the tournament due to scheduling conflicts.