RIPLEY — It has become an annual affair for the two schools along the Ohio River to do battle as the Manchester Greyhounds traveled to Ripley on Saturday, Feb. 6 to battle the Blue Jays for possession of the trophy signifying victory in the River City Classic.
Both teams had suffered through tough regular seasons, but on Saturday night it was the Hounds who picked up the win, jumping out to a 20-point lead and then hanging on for dear life to stave off a late Ripley rally to claim a 53-47 victory.
“We still need to get better before tournament time,” said Manchester head coach Kyle Pertuset. “We saw some good things and positive things tonight. Our kids persevered through some foul trouble in both halves and we were able to hang on to the lead in a pressure situation. Any time you can win a rivalry game like this it’s great for the kids, the school, and the community.”
In the first half of Saturday’s contest, the Greyhounds took advantage of some very cold Ripley shooting to build a big lead. After the scoring opened with a Kaulen Cox three-pointer, the visitors went inside to senior Sean Frost and his six first quarter points helped Manchester to a 13-4 advantage.
The Hounds continued to roll in the second stanza as the host Jays continued to find the proverbial “lid on the basket.” A basket by Justin Aldridge, two more by Frost, and scores by Cox and Mason Bilyeu put Manchester up 25-8 and if not for a baseline runner by Tanner Hatfield late in the half, the Jays would have gone to the break in single digits.
The Hounds scored the first five of the third period, including a Jamie Combs trey, to open up a seemingly insurmountable 30-10 advantage, before the home team began to find the range and begin their comeback. Ripley got two buckets in the paint from Michael Oberschlake and finished the third quarter with Hatfield banking in a shot from half court to slice the Manchester lead to 34-22.
As the final period began, it looked like the Hounds had regained control as they opened with seven straight to go up 41-22, but the Jays answered with eight straight to begin another rally. A Brian Dunn three-pointer made it an 11-2 spurt and a big crowd of blue and gold faithful began to squirm in their seats. After the Hounds got a basket in the paint from Bryan Young to make it 45-33, the Jays came right back again. Josh Deaton scored six straight for the home side, a three from beyond the arc and then the “and one” the old-fashioned way.
A later drive and score by Dunn pulled Ripley within 48-43 with less than a minute to play but the Greyhounds padded their lead from the foul line, getting freebies from Cox and Frost before another Dunn drive and score made it 51-45 with 19 seconds left. The Hounds turned the ball over on the inbounds, but the Jays couldn’t capitalize and two more Frost free throws sealed the deal on a 53-47 Manchester victory.
In the win, the Greyhounds were paced by Sean Frost’s 17 points, with two teammates also reaching double figures, Kaulen Cox with 13 and Bryan Young with 10. Mason Bilyeu added 6.
Ripley got a big game from Brian Dunn, who scored 17 points, 15 of those coming in the fourth quarter. Tanner Hatfield added 12 for the Jays with Josh Deaton getting 6. Ripley was just 6 for 18 from the foul line in the loss.
The Blue Jays got the win in junior varsity action, 31-26.
The final regularly-scheduled game of the season for the Blue Jays is Friday, Feb. 12 in West Union. The team will host senior night on Monday, Feb. 15 against Peebles, a game that was originally scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 9