“It was fitting that the championship game was a grind for this team,” said NMHS head boys basketball coach David Cottrell. “The way we grew all season showed as we did not panic and continued to play hard.”
New Manchester led 44-41 after Ryan Edwards hit a pair of free throws with 1:28 to play.
Villa Rica fought back as DeShawn Dorsey’s basket with 1:02 left set up Josh Lay’s go-ahead jumper with 35 seconds to play in the game.
Trailing 45-44, the Jaguars had a chance to go ahead, but a pass into the paint was intercepted with less than 10 seconds left in the game, forcing NMHS to foul.
“It was hard to score in the paint tonight because the play was so physical,” said Cottrell.
After the Wildcats’ Xavier Hughes missed his first free throw, New Manchester called its last time out.
“We tried to set up the play [after the free throw] and put a couple of our shooters on the right side of the court,” said Cottrell.
Hughes sank his second shot, pushing the advantage to 46-44 with eight seconds remaining.
Nashon Dortch took the inbounds pass, dribbled down the left side to midcourt and passed the ball to Jenkins who calmly sank the shot from beyond the arc with less than a second to play.
“Nashon made a phenomenal play as a point guard,” said the coach. “To throw that pass across the court, over defenders and hit Keymont in stride was phenomenal.”
The game started slowly for both teams as the physical game kept the scoring low. After the first quarter, Villa Rica led 13-10.
The Wildcats were able to push their advantage to eight (20-12 with 3:50 left in the first half) and held the 23-17 advantage during the second quarter.
Joe Boyer for New Manchester pulled the Jags back into the game in the third quarter. Driving to the basket and getting fouled, Boyer hit seven of eight free throws during an 11-2 run, putting NMHS ahead 30-27 with 3:16 left in the period. Villa Rica rebounded and regained the lead at 34-33, heading into the final quarter.
Boyer finished with 18 points for New Manchester while Jenkins scored eight, including the game-winner. Villa Rica was led by DaShawn Dorsey’s 18.
The Jags will now turn their attention to the state tourney where they will host a first round game on Wednesday.
New Manchester reached the finals on Saturday by taking down No. 1 5A-AAAAA seed Allatoona 54-50. Boyer scored a team high 16 points, followed by Jenkins (14), and Edwards (10)
“The kids laid it on the line,” Cottrell said. “We kept battling and believing.”