Manning coach Darren Mazyck didn’t panic when he watched his team’s lead slip away in the fourth quarter against Swansea, and neither did his players.
Led by Keyshaunna Walker and Mahogany Green, the Lady Monarchs erased a seven-point deficit over the final five minutes to knock off the top-ranked Tigers 58-54 on Thursday in the second round of the Class 3A playoffs. Manning (21-5) will travel to Ridgeland-Hardeeville, which was a 68-38 winner over Loris, on Monday in the Lower State semifinals.
Swansea’s season ends at 21-1.
“I always teach them in big games, teams are going to make runs, but you’ve got to be able to handle the spurt when the team makes theirs,” said Mazyck, who is in his third season after coming over from C.E. Murray. “We’ve been in some big games before and the kids play hard. We weren’t going to give up until the last second ran off the clock. We had a game plan that we worked to perfection. I couldn’t ask for more from them.”
After trailing much of the game, Class 3A Player of the Year Danae McNeal took over for Swansea. The sophomore scored six points during a 13-3 run to give the Tigers a 45-38 lead with 5:20 left.
But Walker answered with a pair of 3-pointers before fouling out. Green took over from there. The junior scored 10 of Manning’s final 12 points, including a basket to give the Monarchs a 52-50 lead with 2:26 left.
Green also hit four free throws over the final 1:16 to seal the upset.
“She is a clutch player and probably our best free-throw shooter, so we know down the stretch we wanted to keep the ball in her hands,” Mazyck said.
McNeal led all scorers with 30 points, and Lauryn Robinson added 11. The Tigers were hurt by foul trouble late in the game. Post players Alexis James and Myshalik Davis each fouled out in the fourth quarter.
“That hurt us pretty bad,” Swansea coach Tamara Perdue said of the foul trouble.
Despite the loss, Perdue is hopeful with the direction of the program, whose 21 victories are the most since 2006-07. The Tigers lose one senior. Its top three players – McNeal, Robinson and Zharia Gillings all are underclassmen.
“We told them remember this feeling because you never ever want to feel it again,” Perdue said. “We are going to work hard in the offseason, get better and we are going to get through it.”
M: Mahogany Green 21, Kennedy 2, Keyshaunna Walker 14, Jones 4, Kayla Goldsmith 17. S: Danae McNeal 30, Gillings 2, Davis 2, Lauryn Robinson 11, James 9.