Manchester Academy stunned Washington School on Monday night when Hayes Bardwell hit a free throw with seconds left to give the Mavericks a 39-38 victory.
Manchester Academy head basketball coach John Harris was thrilled to get a win over a 4A program.
“Washington is probably a little down this year, but it is always good to beat a 4A school no matter the situation,” Harris said. “They still have good shooters and good athletes. It was a really big win, and we sure needed it.”
The question of who the game’s victor would be was very much in favor of Washington School with 0:06 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Washington was up two points and was taking the ball out on Manchester’s end of the court after a clock stoppage. All they had to do was get the ball inbounds and across the half-court line.
Unfortunately, that is easier done in theory than in reality.
A Manchester steal and missed shot allowed hulking freshman center Hayes Bardwell to get the rebound and put up a shot, which was made, tying up the game at 38-38, and drew a foul that would give him the opportunity to shoot a free throw for the win.
With the game on the line, the freshman stepped up to the line with the crowd worked into a frenzy trying to rattle him.
But Bardwell had ice in his veins and drained a free throw to give Manchester the 39-38 lead that soon became the final score.
Harris was not surprised to see his freshman come up with a big play in crunch time.
“Hayes works on his free throws all the time, so he’s a pretty good free throw shooter,” Harris said. “He’s going to be a good player for us. He’s getting doubled and triple-teamed in junior high, so he’s having to find ways to work through that. He has the size to give us an added dimension in the post. Once he finishes his junior high season, he’ll get a lot of minutes in high school.”
The game was lower scoring than many Manchester has played this year, and Harris believes some of that was due to scheme and some was due to rust.
“Washington played a 2-3 zone and shaded toward Matt Liddon’s side all night,” Harris said. “We were both playing zones. Being rusty had a little to do with it as well. We made four threes out of probably 20. We struggled to hit open looks. Practice will help that some.”
Matt Liddon, despite Washington game planning around him, led the Mavericks with 13 points in the big victory.
Harris believes his team will be just fine for the homestretch after his players get into a little bit better shape.
“We’re not bad right now,” Harris said. “We’ve got to knock the rust off and get our legs back under us. We have a couple of days until our next big district game with Central Hinds, so we’ll have some hard practices to get back into shape. I think we’re in a pretty good place right now.”
Manchester will return to the hard court on Thursday night with a road trip to Central Hinds that will play a large role in determining the conference tournament seeding.
Tip-off for the first game of the night is set for 3 p.m.