DULUTH-As his name might suggest, Tyler Manley was the man Tuesday, March 12.
Despite fighting a height disadvantage, Pequot Lakes' 6-foot-1 senior post scored a game-high 25 points with all but five coming in the paint to send the No. 3-seeded Patriots to their first section final since 2007 with a 71-56 victory over the Greenway Raiders in the Section 7-2A semifinals.
Manley was not only spectacular but consistent as he tallied 14 points in the first half and 11 in the second. He was also efficient hitting 10-of-12 from the field and 5-of-8 from the line.
"They were bigger, obviously, so we had to work hard on the glass," Manley said. "We just tried to box out and get the rebounds.
"Offensively, we had a little quickness against them. Plus, the defense they were playing, bringing their big guy to the top of their zone and their little guy to the baseline, helped. I had one quick move and I was by him."
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Pequot Lakes 71, Greenway 56
- Key: Tyler Manley scored 25 points
- Record: PL 23-6, Green 21-6
- Next: vs. the Esko/Virginia winner in the Section 7-2A Championship at the University of Minnesota Duluth, 7 p.m. Thursday, March 14.
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Pequot shot 58 percent from the field, despite high-scoring senior Jordan Schommer never finding his rhythm in the spacious University of Minnesota, Duluth Romano Gymnasium.
Schommer still finished with 19 points, with 13 coming in the first half.
"I think we felt good," Pequot Lakes head coach Rich Spiczka said. "The one nice thing is when we can get out and pressure and play on our toes. Our kids are comfortable playing with their foot on the gas. We did a nice job with our pressure. We turned them over a few times, but it also just put them out of sorts on offense, which was the goal.
"They don't play a lot of guys so we were able to run up and down the floor and use our speed and quickness for easy layups. We got the start we were looking for."
Pequot opened shooting 58 percent from the field in the opening half to build a 43-22 halftime edge. Manley owned the paint with 14 points. Owen Seidl hit two 3-pointers in the frame.
The key was Pequot's pressure defense that forced 13 Greenway turnovers. Pequot converted those into 15 points.
Trailing 6-4, Pequot used a 10-0 run to grab a 14-6 edge. Manley scored six in the spurt.
The Patriots rattled off a 13-0 run later in the half, highlighted by nine Schommer points, including six straight for a 38-16 edge.
"Manley was aggressive going to the bucket," Spiczka said. "We were giving up more size tonight than we were last night. Their wings are so tall and long, but we just attacked the basket. Tyler isn't very tall, but he can get off the floor and he's strong and has a quick first step. He did a nice job.
"His role takes a lot of energy. He's got to bang with every guy that's bigger than him. He's got to guard a guy that's bigger than him. He's got to rebound for us. We ask a lot and he did a lot."
The Patriots opened the second half with an 8-0 run. Dylin Ackerman tallied four in the run and finished the second half with eight.
After Manley drained six straight points to give Pequot a 64-36 edge, the Raiders ramped up the urgency. Eighth-grade point guard Grant Hansen hit two 3s and finished with eight second-half points. Sophomore guard Gordon Skaar scored all 10 of his points in the second half and Greenway went on a 17-4 run to give Spiczka reason to fire up his team with a minute and half remaining.
"We talked about it and maybe we didn't have a full understanding of what we were trying to do," Spiczka said. "My thing wasn't shot selection, it was just being casual with the ball. We did so many good things to get there. And kids are smart enough to know the game is where it was. We just have to be a little cleaner with the ball."
Greenway was led by Dylan DeChampeau and Jace Hansen-Cochran, who each scored 17 points.
Greenway shot just 43 percent and didn't have an answer for Manley in the paint.
The last time Pequot played in a section final, Manley was in kindergarten.
"We're playing really good ball," Manley said. "Obviously beating Crosby at their home made me happy. We just have to keep playing our ball. Get out and run on them like we like to do and finish when we get close to the hoop."
For more photos of the game, visit https://bit.ly/2TNdDGL.
Greenway 22 34-56
Pequot Lakes 43 28-71
Grant Hansen 8, Gordon Skaar 10, JJ Hall 2, Jace Hansen-Cochran 17, Dylan DeChampeau 17, Billy Johannsen 2. FG 23-53 (43 percent), FT 4-5 (80 percent). 3-point 6-20 (30 percent).
Sean Ryan 6, Owen Seidl 6, Dylin Ackerman 10, Bode Magnuson 2, Tyler Manley 25, Jordan Schommer 19, Ryan Monahan 1. FG 28-48 (58 percent), FT 11-17 (65 percent). 3-point 4-11 (36 percent).