Mohawks Bounced in First Round of District

Thursday, February 23, 2017
Piggott's Brier Staples looks for room in the paint during the Tribe's first round loss to Manila. Also pictured for the Mohawks is Bret Fuller.(TD photo/Diane Fletcher)

The Piggott Mohawks ended their first campaign under head coach Seth Medlen in the first round of the district tournament at Osceola last Tuesday, falling to the Manila Lions by 20 points. This marked the first year for the blended conference schedule, which didn't bode well for those in the western division of the 3A-3, as all four were eliminated by teams from the east in the first round.

Coming off a decisive senior night win over Rector, the Mohawks rolled into the first round game with the Lions on a high note. In the early going it appeared the Tribe would hang with the talented Manila squad. The Mohawks got a pair of three-pointers from Josh Lyman, another from Trey Gossett, field goals from Quentin Reeves and Bret Fuller and a couple of free throws by Peyton Mann as the two teams battled to a 15-15 tie after one.

But, it was another matter in the second quarter, as the Lions put on the defensive pressure, and an offensive run. Joel Burrows hit two treys, Bradley Woodall had another and a pair of free-throws and Brock Birmingham had five points in the period, as they took the frame 17-7, and took a 10 point lead into intermission.

The Tribe continued to have trouble scoring against the pressure defense in the third, getting a pair of field goals from Reeves, a field goal and a pair of free-throws from Mann and two free-throws by Brier Staples. Freshman Michael Palmer also came off the bench and hit a jumper, scoring two of his four points on the game.

In the third quarter the Lions edged the Mohawks 21-12, as they enjoyed a 53-34 advantage entering the fourth quarter.

Gossett paced the Mohawks with six points in the fourth quarter, on two field goals and a pair of free-throws, but he also missed four free-throws in a row. Lyman hit another three in the third, Staples added a field goal along with Isaac Langley, scoring off the bench. Mann and Palmer were 2 for 2 from the stripe in the fourth, while Reeves was 1 of 2 from the line. As for the Lions, they were edged in the fourth 19-18 to set the final, with the majority of their points in the quarter coming from the bench.

"It was tough, we missed free-throws, missed layups, it sure wasn't our best performance of the year," Coach Medlen said of the loss. "But, I am extremely proud of all these young men for working hard all season."

Mann led the Mohawks with 13, while Gossett was also in double figures with 11. Lyman had 9 points, Reeves finished with 7, Staples had 4 points and Fuller and Langley both had 2 points in the loss. As a team the Mohawks shot a sub-par 11 of 25 from the free-throw line, while the Lions converted on 17 of 24 attempts. Leading all scorers was Manila's Joel Burton with 25, with 12 of those coming in the pivotal third quarter of play.

"Our seniors, Peyton Mann and Bret Fuller, they've helped lay the foundation to start moving this program in a positive direction," Medlen said of his only two seniors. "I am proud of them both."

With the loss the Mohawks end their season at 13-11, much better than many had forecast with the graduation of last year's senior class. With a good core of returning talent, Medlen is optimistic about the seasons to come.

"For the up-and-coming guys on the team, our future looks bright--but we must continue to work," he added. "No excuses!"

All four of the western division boys teams, which included Piggott, Corning, Hoxie and Walnut Ridge, were eliminated in the district tournament. As a result, the four eastern division teams, which includes Manila, Riverside, Rivercrest and Osceola, all advanced to this week's regional at Riverside.

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