DEFIANCE, OHIO – The Defiance late rally fell short as Manchester was able to hold off the Yellow Jackets in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference action Wednesday evening at the Karl H. Weaner Center, 73-66.
The Yellow Jackets (3-15 overall, 2-9 HCAC) were led in the contest by freshman Demoines Whitney (Detroit, Mich./Western) tying a career-best 15 points.
Junior Allante Wheeler (Canton, Mich.) led an early DC charge as he connected from behind the arc with 18:19 to play in the opening period giving Defiance the 8-6 advantage. The Yellow Jackets continued to extend its lead as freshman Elijah Pennington hit a jumper moments later to push the score to 12-9. However, the Spartans came storming back using an 8-0 run spanning over two minutes to claim the advantage, 17-12.
The Purple and Gold responded as Whitney went to work in the paint pulling DC within 19-17 at the 12:07 mark. They would cut the deficit to 27-22 as junior Randall Aikins Jr. (Detroit, Mich./Plymouth) beat the defense for the easy lay in. The pace picked up late in the half as the two teams exchanged points for several minutes before another Manchester run pushed the lead to 34-24 with 4:54 to play. The Yellow Jackets entered the break trailing 42-34 as freshman Avion Franklin (Toledo/Whitmer) hit a long range ball as time expired.
The Purple and Gold looked to pound the ball down low early in the second half as freshman Cohen Nies (Logansport, Ind./Lewis Cass) finished in traffic with 18:30 remaining, 43-36. Manchester forced a DC timeout moments later as another small run extended the Spartan lead. The Yellow Jackets slowly chipped at the lead cutting it to seven after a pair of free throws by Whitney at the 15:20 mark, 47-40.
The Spartans cranked up the defense midway through the second half holding the Purple and Gold scoreless for nearly two minutes before Franklin drained a three-pointer with 12:36 to play, 52-43. However, Manchester responded with back-to-back scores pushing the lead to 57-44. With 8:28 remaining, DC looked to steal the momentum as freshman Connor Custenborder (Versailles) made his way into the scoring column with a three-pointer at the top of the key, 59-51. Defiance tried to get something going late as freshman Ben Singer (Cambridge City, Ind./Lincoln) landed a three followed by a layup from Franklin to pull within 67-60 at the four minute mark.
The Yellow Jackets continued to work as Singer hit another three-pointer and Whitney completed the old fashion three-point play with 2:30 remaining pulling DC to 69-66. The Defiance late rally would come up short as the Spartans sealed the victory with a strong defensive stance, 73-66.
Defiance returns to action Saturday, January 27 as they travel to Franklin. Game time is set for 4:00 p.m.