WABASH – Manchester Squires second-year head coach Eli Henson realizes one of the perils of starting two freshmen and a sophomore is consistency. His Squires outscored their hosts, the Wabash Apaches,  32-20 in the second half, but ball security miscues plagued Manchester in the first half putting them in a hole they couldn’t climb out of in their 58-53 loss in Three Rivers Conference (TRC) boys’ basketball action Friday night.

“Second half,” Henson said. “I just questioned them, ‘What team’s gonna show up? You guys control that.’ But I knew the week of practice we might not come out playing very well.”

Wabash led 13-4 in the opening quarter, then pushed their lead to 38-25 in a second period where both teams shot well.

The Squires hit 8 of 12 (67%) second quarter shots, experiencing better success finding their 6’5” wunderkind center Gavin Betten inside for 8 points in the frame. Betten finished the night with 14 points. Wabash, however, responded with turning Squire miscues into points finishing the second frame 9 for 14 (64%) including four buckets beyond the 3-point arc.

While Manchester successfully moved toward an inside game, their passing and ball security woes continued from the first quarter enabling their hosts to continue moving further ahead.

“That was our plan from the get-go, we wanted to get the ball inside, but the ball didn’t get inside,” Henson said. ‘We turned it over too many times. We forced too many passes that weren’t there. That’s how we’re gonna’ win. We gotta get (Gavin Betten) inside. It opens up everything else for us.

“You saw what happened in the second half. They had to leave guys open to double him in the second half.

“They’re tough to guard. We knew we couldn’t zone because they shoot so well. We have to man them, and we were willing to give up the three now and then. Man, when they’re on they’re tough to beat.”

Wabash slipped into a shooting funk in the second half, hitting 4 of 11 shots (36%) in the third frame and hit 5 for 20 (25%), a stark contrast to their 57% field goal accuracy in the first half. The Squires finished the third period trailing 47-36.

Trevor Daughtry, Wabash’s 5’8” sophomore and the team’s leading scorer entering last night’s fray with a 15.3-point scoring average, hit the Apaches’ only field goal beyond the arc in a 1 for 9 fourth-quarter shooting effort. He finished the night with a game-leading 21 tallies.

Daughtry’s teammates shot perfectly from the free throw line in the game’s last 90 seconds, 6 for 6, after their double-digit lead slipped to 52-47 by an 11-2 late Manchester run. The score read 58-50 after the Squires’ William Rickerd, a senior transfer from Whitko, hit a 3-point shot at the buzzer.

“We were able to get some stops to get back in the game… our guys kept fighting,” Henson remarked. “I’m proud of them for that. We just can’t dig a hole for ourselves like we did in the first half.”

Daughtry’s offensive effort was aided by Apache teammates Kolton Wilson (10 points), and Izaak Wright (9 points).

Manchester, who hit 13 of 25 shots (52%) in the second half finished 23 for 47 (49%) for the entire evening. Additional Squires’ scoring leaders included senior Cade Jones (19 points with two 3-pointers), Rickerd (10 points, two 3-pointers), and Gavin Martin’s 7 points off the bench. Martin also added one bucket beyond the arc. Freshman guard Ethan Hendrix added one of Manchester’s six treys in the contest.

The Squires (5-6, 2-1) visit Rochester Friday Jan 21, and host Adams Central Saturday Jan 22. Wabash’s win moves them to 6-5, and 3-1 in the TRC.

Wabash captured the JV contest 45-44. Manchester’s balanced scoring was comprised of efforts from Kaleb Kline (15 points), Trevor Heath (9 points), Tallon Torpy (8 points), Logan Eastgate (7 points), and Carter Wagoner (5 points).