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Manchester holds off late Peru rally

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BARREL ROLL: Peru Courtlynn Crowe (11) motors down the lane for a layup during the first half of Wednesday night’s TRC girls’ basketball game against Manchester. Crowe led the Tigers with 18 points in the 51-46 loss to the Squires.
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ANGLES: Peru’s Maegan Sinkovics (L) tries to fine a passing outlet between the baseline and Manchester defender Kennidy Lauer (R) during Wednesday night’s TRC girls’ basketball game. Sinkovics scored eight points for the Tigers in the 51-46 loss to the Squires.

BY TRENT SCOTT - tscott@perutribune.com

In three out of four quarters Wednesday night, Peru used a balanced offensive attack to outscore Manchester, one of the four teams tied at the top of the TRC girls’ basketball standings.

The Squires managed to avoid a second-straight loss to a Miami County team Wednesday night, however, by using a 26-point third quarter to build a 10-point lead heading into the fourth and staving off a late Tiger rally for a 51-46 win.

Peru head coach David Weeks said the team battled but, as in several other close games, couldn’t quite scale the peak they had to climb.

“There’s no quit in the girls,” Weeks said. “They go hard and fight for everything, it’s just we can’t get that one basket or one stop we need and it’s something we’ve seen all year.

“Other teams seem to get those shots to drop or get the stop they need. We tell the girls they’re right there and we’ll get it.”

The game got off to a slow start for both teams as Harmoni Stone and Kennedy Fierstos traded the opening baskets.

Peru got into gear first as Courtlynn Crowe converted a pair of layups around a Cate Wolfe three to give the hosts a 9-2 lead midway through the period.

Maegan Sinkovics added a basket to give the hosts their largest lead of the night at 11-2.

Eva Bazzoni bailed out Manchester in the final minute-and-a-half after Crowe picked up a second foul, draining two threes to trim the gap to two at 11-9.

“We started off great but we also know it’s a 32-minute game,” Weeks said about the first quarter. “We stayed consistent throughout the night after that.”

Stone opened the second quarter with a basket but six-straight from the Squires off of baskets from Fierstos, Emma West and Bazzoni gave the visitors their first lead of the game at 15-13.

Crowe answered with a pair of baskets to put Peru back in front before Fierstos tied the game again at 17-17.

Wolfe hit her second three of the night to close the half, giving the Tigers a 20-17 lead at halftime.

As off as Manchester was in the first half from the field, the Squires were equally on point in the third quarter.

Sinkovics started the half with a three to give Peru a 23-17 lead with Fierstos and Kennidy Lauer replying to trim the gap to two at 23-21.

Stone scored on a jumper before Bazzoni caught fire, knocking down two threes that gave the visitors the lead for good as well as a layup and a steal for a Fierstos basket, pushing Manchester into a 33-25 lead.

Crowe finally scored twice around a Jirni Cripe basket to halt the 12-0 run that had taken just over two minutes.

Fierstos hit a three that was traded off by a three-point play from Stone, followed by a basket from Carlee Marburger that cut the lead down to 38-33.

Bazzoni had one more dagger in hand before the period ended, notching another three while Kiera Hatfield converted from close range to give the Squires a 43-33 lead heading into the final period of play.

“(Manchester) hit four threes in the quarter, which was huge,” Weeks said about the third period. “It wasn’t for a lack of us trying to do what we needed to do defensively.

“We knew what Fierstos could do coming in and knew Bazzoni was a shooter. They made some adjustments at halftime to get them free with more screens and we lost them a couple of times.”

As soon as the period ended, Manchester reverted back to their first half offense, giving Peru a chance to cut the lead in half following a Crowe jumper and Sinkovics three.

Bazzoni hit a free throw but two more Crowe baskets saw the Tigers cut the deficit to two at 44-42.

Weeks said the team remained calm as it tried to navigate the 10-point deficit.

“We told the girls it wasn’t over and to just keep chipping away,” Weeks noted. “We ran a different kind of offense where we went inside to Harmoni and Courtlynn, trying to get to the free throw line.”

After Bazzoni hit two more free throws, Stone scored on a putback, only for Fierstos to pop up with a crucial three that stretched the lead back out to five at 49-44 with two minutes to play.

Hatfield missed the front end of two one-and-one opportunities but Crowe also drew iron at the line and time soon ran out on the hosts’ chance to make up the deficit.

Peru will look to get back to winning ways Saturday when the team hosts Eastern.

The Comets, sitting on a four-game losing streak heading into Thursday night’s game against Southwood, will also look to fire away from deep and Weeks said the team needed to be concise with its decision making and communication on defense.

“We need to know where screens on and communicate when they switch,” Weeks said. “There was one time a lack of communication allowed (Manchester) to get a three.

“There’s a lot of things we can do to fix those things and we need to do as we approach the last five games of the season.”