BLUFFTON – Facing a tough opening round matchup in IHSAA 2A Sectional 36, the Manchester Squires boys basketball team held their own for about a quarter against the 2A No. 4 Fort Wayne Blackhawk Braves before eventually falling 70-39.

The Squires started the game in good shape, battling the Braves and matching buckets throughout the opening period. Freshman Gavin Betten was as good as he has been all season long, scoring eight first-quarter points to help keep Manchester in the game. The Squires could offer little resistance to Blackhawk’s balanced attack, and struggled even more on the glass. The Braves were able to get whatever they wanted in the second-chance department, allowing them to stay on top 16-13 going into the second quarter.

The second period was a nightmare on both ends for Manchester. Blackhawk would steamroll the Squires to the tune of 20 straight points, getting them in a variety of ways. The Braves combination of made threes and easy transition buckets resulting from Manchester turnovers spiraled into a massive run that left the Squires down big at the break. Manchester would score its first points of the quarter with about a minute left on a three from Gavin Martin, and would head into the halftime break trailing 39-16.

The second half offered little change to the pattern being developed. Blackhawk continued to sink open looks and control the glass, ballooning the lead to over 30 in the process. Betten did his best to keep the Squires in the game, but with a little under a minute to play in the third, the Braves went up 35, initiating the IHSAA’s running-clock mercy rule.

Manchester senior Cade Jones made the most of his final quarter in a Squires uniform, scoring seven points on his way to scoring 13. Betten led all Manchester players with 14 and six rebounds. The Squires end the season with a 10-13 record.