New Manchester Battles Back From 15 Point Deficit, Defeats Hiram 49-47 For Sweet 16 Birth
On Wednesday, No. 1 seed, New Manchester Jaguars hosted No. 4 Hiram Hornets in the opening round of the Georgia High School Association Class 5A state championship tournament. The Hornets would come out aggressive in their offensive attack and were able to capitalize off of New Manchester's early struggles in their perimeter game and as a result, Hiram would lead the Jaguars 10-3 at the end of the opening period. In the second quarter, momentum continued to stay in favor of the Hornets as New Manchester continued to struggle with getting their perimeter shots to drop and Hiram would take a 31-16 lead into the locker room at the half.
In the third quarter, the Jaguars would finally get into a groove on both ends of the court and outscore the Hornets 18-8 and would trail 39-34 following a James Robinson (14 points) three point basket at the buzzer as the quarter cam to an end. New Manchester would go own to outscore Hiram in the fourth quarter as well, 15-8, to help them pick up the 49-47 come from behind win to advance to the GHSA 5A sweet 16. New Manchester's Derrick Early would finish with a team high, 15 points in the win.
Following the game, New Manchester head coach, James Bailey said that he felt the hype the guys had coming off their final stretch of regular season games, in which they won five of the last six, may have played a role in theri slow start Wednesday night. "We came out really hyped up because we made an incredible run in the regular season, so a lot of attention was on them, but we played through it and we were a totally new team in the second half," Coach Bailey said. He went on to credit his coaching staff and players stating, "it's a team effort. I told them, it's going to take a team effort to make it happen, and they did it." New Manchester will now face Decatur in the sweet 16 round and when asked what he would like to see his players work on being better at, Coach Bailey he said he simply wants them to play four quarters of their basketball. "These kids don't quit and they play hard, so I tell them, give me four quarters and I'll live with the end results."