(PHOTO: Senior Kenny Fleming goes to the hoop over a New Site defender on Senior Night in Mantachie last Tuesday. -photo courtesy of photosbylance.com)
By ROB WILLIAMS
Mantachie fans bid a sad farewell to Kenny Fleming, Alex Smothers and Russ Brasel last Tuesday night, and the three seniors thanked the crowd by scoring double figures in the Mustangs 87-57 win over New Site on Senior Night.
It was a junior, however, who started the ball rolling as Ivan Collier pulled up for a three off the opening tip. The Royals scored the next four to go ahead, and then the Mustang seniors got involved in the offense.
Brasel spun around a Royal defender for a layup after Collier stole the ball, and Fleming went high over three New Site defenders for his first basket. Smothers went to the hoop with a New Site turnover to give the Mustangs a 16-5 lead at the halfway point of the first quarter.
The Royals cut the margin to four points, 15-11, but Zack Vanstory hit from deep in the corner to get the Mustangs rolling again. Fleming and Vanstory added free throws in the final minute to put the Mustangs ahead, 22-13, at the end of the quarter.
The Mustangs stretched their lead to 15 points, 36-21, late in the second period, but the Royals came storming back and cut the margin to five, 38-33, at intermission.
Fleming pulled up for a short jumper but then dumped the ball to Smothers, who was open under the basket to start the second half. Then the Mustangs put on full-court pressure on the Royals.
Smothers and Fleming each hit a pair of buckets from turnovers created by the Mustang pressure and then Brasel took a rebound off the rim and raced to the other end to build the lead back to double digits at the 4:00 mark.
Smothers extended the margin to 15 points with a breakaway layup, and Fleming drove to the hoop at the buzzer to give Mantachie a 62-47 lead going into the final period.
After Vanstory nailed a three in the fourth quarter, P.K. Caples followed suit as the Mustangs began putting the game away. The Royals hit a few shots from behind the arc in the closing minutes, but it wasn’t enough to catchup.
After Coach Scott Collier pulled his seniors from the game to a standing ovation from the crowd, David Knight hit a pair of free throws to make the final score, 87-57.
Fleming was the leading scorer with 20 points, Smothers was right behind with 17 and Brasel pitched in 11. For the non-seniors, Vanstory had 17, and Caples added 13.
“It’s meant a lot to me to have these three guys for the past four years,” Collier said. “They are good kids, good students and great basketball players. They are smart on the floor and provide great leadership. They will be very hard to replace.”