Boys basketball districts: Mainland launches second-half comeback to beat St. Augustine

DAYTONA BEACH — Kade Manley made one shot Saturday night. It just so happened to win the Mainland Buccaneers a district championship.

The freshman guard sank a 3-pointer that put them up for good with 1:06 remaining in the District 4-5A finals against St. Augustine (14-11). That completed their second-half comeback. They clinched a 43-39 victory at Seabreeze High School.

Trailing 39-37 in the fourth quarter, Mainland got the ball back with 1:40 left after two missed free throws by the Yellow Jackets. The Bucs (19-6) worked it around in the halfcourt, and Manley received a pass in the right corner from sophomore Nathan Kirk.

He tossed it back.

“I was open the first time, but I waited for a better shot,” Manley said. “I didn’t really rush it. I just waited for the ball to come back.”

And when it did via a Kirk pass a few seconds later, Manley lofted the shot and swished it.

“There was no bigger shot than that,” coach Joe Giddens said. “And for him being a ninth-grader to catch it and let it go, hey man, go ahead. Shoot it. I tell Kade all the time to keep shooting. He stepped up big.”

St. Augustine dribbled down the floor, and junior Dorian Grimes’ 3 clanked off the iron. Mainland secured the rebound and, following a pair of fouls by the Yellow Jackets, went to the charity stripe.

Kirk drilled both free throws to make it 42-39. Grimes missed another trey, St. Augustine’s last gasp. The Bucs corralled the rebound, and senior Narayan Thomas converted 1-of-2 from the free-throw line with 0.8 seconds left to finalize the score.

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It’s Mainland’s third district title in a row.

“What I love about my guys is that, when stuff got bad, they didn’t get on each other,” Giddens said. “They pulled together. As a coach, a player-driven team is better than a coach-driven team.”

Things were bleak early on.

The Yellow Jackets rushed to the first seven points of the game and led 9-4 at the end of the first quarter. They took a 24-17 advantage into intermission.

The Bucs missed 6 of 10 free throws in the first half. Giddens thought they shot the ball poorly from the field, too, while St. Augustine excelled.

Mainland’s defense thrived in the second half, though, and its offense caught up. By the fourth quarter, it trimmed its deficit to 32-30.

Thomas tied the game for the first time since the opening minute with a layup six seconds into the final period. Kirk handed the Bucs their first lead of the evening (35-32) with a free throw and a layup.

The Yellow Jackets didn’t score between the 0:54 mark of the third quarter and the 4:18 mark of the fourth. Sophomore Somourian Wingo made two free throws to kill the drought.

Grimes shoved St. Augustine ahead 36-35 with an offensive rebound and a layup. Wingo hit a three with 1:53 left.

Then came Manley’s heroics. He finished 1-of-3 from the field.

“We just don’t get down on ourselves,” Thomas said. “No matter what they do, we know what kind of team we are. We know what we bring to the table. We just never worry about the other team. Just play our basketball.”

Kirk and Thomas each reached double figures: 18 and 16 points, respectively. Senior DeAndre Newland grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds.

Mainland will find out the details for its regional quarterfinal matchup Sunday afternoon.

Palm Bay 67, Atlantic 37

Top-seeded Palm Bay jumped ahead of the Sharks 15-4 in the first quarter and led the entire way to its District 8-4A title. No. 3 Atlantic’s best quarter was the second when it outscored the Pirates 11-9. Its record is 14-11.

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Master’s Academy 54, Father Lopez 36

Father Lopez dropped a battle between District 4-3A’s top seeds, as Master’s Academy claimed the crown. The same matchup, with the same result, headlined last winter’s tournament. The second-seeded Green Wave are 19-6 this season.

Mount Dora Christian 65, Halifax 59

For the second consecutive year, No. 2 Halifax met No. 1 Mount Dora Christian in the District 6-2A finals. The Bulldogs reigned victorious again, as the Knights fell six points short of an upset. 

Halifax’s record dipped to 22-5.

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