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Despite defeat, Hillbillies show improvement


Bill Lusk | WVOW Sports


MAN The record book will note a lopsided win, but the score was not-as-bad-as-it-appeared for the Man High School Hillbillies Friday night in a 75-43 loss to Tolsia Friday at the Man Memorial Fieldhouse.


Man did show improvement from their 73-44 loss at Tolsia on Dec. 13. Staked by the hot shooting of Caleb Vance, who electrified the crowd with two first quarter 3-pointers, the Hillbillies jumped out to an early 8-2 lead with 5:38 to play in the opening quarter.


“Spurts of improvement,” Man coach TJ Blevins said following the loss, adding that he has taken steps to change the way the team has practiced during the current losing streak, which now stands at six games following Friday’s loss. “Trying to make practices a little different for them, (trying to) get them a little more relaxed.”


The Rebels battled back with an 8-2 run to tie the game at 10 with 3:09 remaining on a 3-pointer from Parker Watts and took their first lead of the contest on Bray Mollette’s basket with 1:22 remaining for a 14-12 lead.


Man battled back and with 0:26 remaining in the quarter, freshman Trace Doty sank a 15-foot jumper to even the contest at 14 after one quarter of play.


Vance hit a 3 to start the second quarter to give Man a 17-14 lead before Tolsia scored the next six points to take a 20-17 lead on Mollette’s 3 with 6:56 remaining before halftime.


Justin Mullins hit a free throw with 3:24 remaining gave Man a 24-23, however, it would be the last of the contest for the Hillbillies, who played the majority of the first half without starters Chris Isaacs and Colton Miller after both picked up their third foul early in the second quarter and had to sit for much of the first half.


With Isaacs and Miller out of the lineup, the Rebels finished the first half on 13-3 run and took a 36-27 lead at halftime.


“I thought we played very good in the first 14 minutes of the ballgame and then we started going back into our old ways there at the end of the second quarter and it kindly bit us,” Blevins said referring to youthful mistakes once Isaacs and Miller left the game due to foul trouble. “We are so daggone young and this experience is the best for them and we keep making the same mistakes over and over.


It is the simple mistakes that can be fixed and corrected, but it is going to take a lot of experience for these guys,” Blevins said. “These seniors ain’t got much longer, but we got to figure it out quick before the sectionals.”


Vance hit his fourth and final 3 to start the third quarter scoring and bring Man to within six points, 36-30, with 7:46 to play, however Miller picked up his fourth foul 29 seconds later, and Issacs would pick up his fourth foul 57 seconds later as both were forced to sit for the remaining 6:20 of the quarter.


The Hillbillies trailed by seven points, 37-30, but the Rebels turned up the defensive intensity and forced 13 third quarter turnovers, 10 of which coming without Isaacs and Miller in the lineup, to close the third quarter on a 29-5 run extending Tolsia’s lead to 65-35 after three quarters of play.


“We put the press on, and they picked up on what the guards were doing, they took the passing lanes from them, and we got to the back spots on the press,” Tolsia coach Brian Stacy said, adding that the press helped the Rebels get out in transition much better in the second half than the first half. “When we run and push then we got the ability to catch and shoot and it was open all night long.”


Man turned the ball over 31 times in the loss, which frustrated Blevins.


“We preach to these guys don’t go up the sideline, don’t go up the sideline and we go up the sideline,” Blevins said. “Bad things happen on the sidelines and we turn the ball over and you can’t beat many Buddy League teams with 27, 28, 29 turnovers.”


Watts led four Rebels in double figures with a game-high 26 points. Ben Clayton scored 15, Austin had 11 and Mollette finished with a double-double scoring 11 points and pulling down 12 rebounds.


“We set Mollette a lot because he was in foul trouble, but he is a physical kid and we got to have that on the floor,” Stacy said.


Vance led Man with 12 points on 4 of 7 shooting and was 4 of 6 on 3-pointers. The senior had nine points in the first half and just three points in the second half.


“It is obvious who the shooter is on our team, it’s Vance,” Blevins said. “We set a play up for him at halftime, we come out he executes and hits it, and he never touches the ball again.”


“He shot just one time in second half,” Blevins said. “Plays were drawn for him but for some reason our guys couldn’t find him with the ball, and I don’t know why.”


Isaacs and freshman Conner White each had six points for the Hillbillies who also got contributions off the bench from guys who don’t normally get playing time including Doty with four points and Mullins with three points.


“Connor White is a ball magnet. I don’t care where he is at, the ball finds him,” Blevins said. “He hustles, he nonstops hustles, doesn’t say a word and gets the job done. More minutes for him is coming either way.”


“Justin Mullins can flat outshoot the basketball he missed a couple tonight, but he is usually knocking them down in practice and JV. I think he can give us good minutes going forward,” Blevins said. “Trace Doty came in and knocked down two shots tonight and Trace can hopefully help out down the line the more experience he gets.”


Man (1-6) returns to action Friday night at home against winless Richwood.


“It should be one hell of a matchup,” Blevins said. “We are going to back at it and like we explained to them after the game, the first half tonight is how we should we play for four quarters.”


Tolsia 75, Man 43


Tolsia (5-4)

Watts 9-15 3-5 26, Clayton 5-14 2-2 15, Mollette 4-13 1-2 11, Austin 4-7 1-2 11, Muncy 3-11 0-0 6, Dingess 2-6 0-0 4, Ball 1-3 0-0 2, Blackburn 0-3 0-0 0. Totals: 28-72 7-11 75.


Man (1-7)

Vance 4-7 0-0 12, Isaacs 3-10 0-2 6, White 3-9 0-0 6, Gerace 2-5 0-2 4, Ward 2-9 0-0 4, Doty 2-3 0-0 4, Mullins 1-4 1-2 3, Sanders 1-1 0-1 3, Gillispie 0-1 1-1 1, Miller 0-3 0-0 0. Totals: 18-52 2-8 43.


Tolsia 14 22 29 10- 75

Man 14 13 8 8- 43

3-Point Field Goals_Tolsia 12-35 (Watts 5-9, Clayton 3-9, Mollette 2-6, Austin 2-4, Muncy 0-2, Ball 0-2, Blackburn 0-3), Man 5-17 (Vance 4-6, White 0-1, Gerace 0-1, Ward 0-4, Mullins 0-2, Sanders 1-1, Miller 0-2). Fouled Out_Isaacs, Miller. Rebounds_Tolsia 37 (Mollette 12), Man 42 (Gerace 9). Assists_Tolsia 21 (Clayton 5, Austin 5), Man 9 (Isaacs 2, Ward 2, Miller 2). Total Fouls_Tolsia 12, Man 13. Technicals_None.

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