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Manchester stings Peru in overtime

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HELPING HANDS: Peru’s Michael Chandler (left) has help from Matt Ross (10) and Treyden Curtis (back) to ensure he pulls down a rebound during Friday night’s TRC boys’ basketball game at Manchester. The Tigers had late chances to secure a win in both the fourth quarter and overtime but fell on a late 3-pointer in a 47-46 loss.
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CENTER OF ATTENTION: Peru’s Kash Bellar (center) looks around for a passing option with the eyes of the Manchester defense firmly on him during Friday night’s TRC boys’ basketball game. Bellar started in place of the injured Josh Adejokun and had nine points in the Tigers 47-46 overtime loss to the Squires.

BY TRENT SCOTT - tscott@perutribune.com

NORTH MANCHESTER — With life breathed back into the TRC boys’ basketball race following Wabash’s loss earlier this week, Peru had a chance to thrust itself back into the conference race at Manchester Friday night.

The Tigers controlled much of the game in terms of lead and tempo but when it counted most, the Squires managed to drag the game to overtime and Weston Hamby took the space afforded him in the final 10 seconds to bury a three and keep the hosts’ conference title hopes alive with a 47-46 win.

Peru head coach Eric Thompson said the team had a better showing than Tuesday night with Twin Lakes but didn’t make a few plays late to win the game.

“We executed better, the guys attacked the zone better but we couldn’t take care of the ball and adjust to the way the game was being called late,” Thompson said. “Once we get that figured, and we keep getting better as we go, good things will happen.”

Despite being the penultimate home game of the season, Manchester used the night to honor its senior players and got its first seven points from seniors as Kam Lester turned a steal into a layup, Konrad Borgman buried an open three and Brayden Casper added a basket for an even 7-7 start.

Hamby scored to give the Squires a 9-7 lead but it would be the last lead the team held for nearly 30 minutes of game time.

Much of Peru’s offense came from its reserves in the opening period as Kash Bellar knocked down a pair of short jumpers, Kade Townsend connected on a three and a layup and Matt Ross scored at the end of the period to give the Tigers a 13-11 lead going into the second quarter.

Daunte Majors notched two free throws and a layup to stretch the lead to six before Casper hit two free throws and Thane Creager hit a three to trim the gap to 17-16.

Bellar scored again before a DJ Fuller basket that saw the lead extended to five, only for Hamby and Creager to hit four-straight from the line.

With Josh Adejokun and Preston Jenkins both sidelined by injuries, Thompson said players like Bellar, who started Friday night, Townsend and Ross made important contributions throughout the half.

“These guys hustle, do their best and try to execute what we want,” Thompson said. “The guys gave us a chance and if we play the way we know we can, we have a chance to win every game.”

The Tigers closed the half well as Chandler got a basket and a free throw and Majors added a layup and two more free throws to give the visitors a 28-21 lead at halftime.

Wabash closed the deficit to two after Lester opened the second half with a basket and Logan Parrett hit two free throws but a Fuller basket and three-point play, followed by a Townsend three and free throw, moved Peru out to a 36-27 lead.

Casper scored before the end of the period to make it a seven-point game a 36-29 with eight minutes to play.

Caleb Stout opened the fourth quarter with a basket that was cancelled out by a Treyden Curtis layup.

Max Carter saw his basket answered by Majors as the Tigers bled out the clock, taking up huge chunks of time on each possession.

“Like counterpunchers, we like to take what teams are giving us,” Thompson said on the slow pace of the fourth quarter. “It was the way the game had to be.

“We tried to get the best shot possible and do the best we could.”

Lester converted a three-point play with just over two minutes to play but chances were still few and far between.

The Squires created opportunities off of steals, turning a Peru steal around into a Creager layup before Hamby swiped the ball and tied the game with 35 seconds left with a layup.

The Tigers held the ball for the last shot but never got one away, sending the game to overtime.

Casper missed two early free throws and Fuller punished the misses with a three for a 43-40 lead.

Hamby hit two free throws only to see Bellar can a three from the corner to extend the lead to 46-42.

A key moment in the overtime period soon happened off a Manchester miss as Peru secured the rebound, only for a foul off the ball to be called that gave Casper two more shots at the line, free throws the senior connected on.

“I didn’t see but I also don’t doubt it,” Thompson said about Chandler’s foul. “It’s unfortunate it went the way it did there.”

Both teams started to feel the heat as the Tigers missed a layup only for the Squires to throw the ball into the student section on back-to-back possessions.

After a pass was deflected out of bounds, the hosts called timeout and from the inbounds play, Hamby was given acres of space behind the arc and lifted a three that gave the host a 47-46 lead.

Peru had a chance to win the game and got Fuller free at the free throw line but his shot was off and Bellar’s follow-up was short as well, keeping Manchester in the hunt for a TRC title.

Thompson said the team was close but needed just a little more to get a win.

“We had our chances,” Thompson said. “We’re learning, we have great kids and they’ll bounce back.

“We know Manchester is a good three-point shooting team but we did hold them to 47 points. We just needed to hold them to 45 points tonight.”

After facing Western Saturday, Peru will move back into TRC play Friday at Rochester.

Thompson said the Zebras and Squires also played a close game earlier in the year and expected a tough outing over the weekend.

“Rochester had Manchester beat until Casper hit a last-second shot,” Thompson noted. “We don’t have an easy game the rest of the way out.

“We don’t need an easy one, though, given the caliber of our sectional.”