Bears get revenge, down Isabella in rematch

Published 10:45 am Tuesday, January 31, 2023

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By Carey Reeder | Staff Writer

Billingsley High School avenged its earlier season loss to Isabella High School prevailing 51-32 at home on Jan. 30. The Bears were handled 64-29 by the Mustangs on Nov. 28 in their second game of the season. Now, Billingsley flipped the script on Isabella and is showing real signs of improvement heading into their respective area tournament.

“We set a goal to finish our last four games 4-0, and I think that is obtainable for us,” Billingsley coach Lanny Jones said. “There are always ups and downs in basketball, but we need to be playing our best at the right time. When we shoot well, we can play with anybody.”

The Bears hot shooting was on display early in the game when Eli Manning got the scoring start with a 3-pointer right out of the gate. Manning scored 11 points in the first quarter and helped Billingsley build a 15-0 start. Manning was the game’s leading scorer with 15 points.

Isabella’s Garrett Price put in a free throw with 1:30 left in the first quarter for the Mustangs first basket, and Billingsley led 18-1 after the opening frame. Price had 14 points for Isabella.

Isabella was without its top two leading scorers, and will probably be without top scorer Eli Kendrick the rest of the season.

“We probably are not going to have him (the rest of the season), and have two more out,” Isabella coach Tate Leonard said. “It is what it is … We were really getting a lot better and improving, and this is a setback, but the guys we have left have to step up and get it done.”

Billingsley poured it on in the second quarter, blooming its lead to as many as 23 points. Trenton Collins knocked down a 3-pointer for Isabella just before the halftime whistle to trim the lead down to 33-16.

Isabella was held scoreless through the first half of the third quarter until Price put in a layup. Jones said the Bears are getting better defensively, and that has been a key to their late season push.

It was evident against Isabella.

“When we keep teams in that mid-30s to low-40s range, I feel like we always have a chance to win,” Jones said. “I know we have shooters … We have to expect to win the game before it starts, so when we are in a close game we know how to handle it.”

Kyle Boice and Mason Truesdale rounded out the Bears double-digit scorers with 14 and 10 points, respectively.

Isabella kept the score steady throughout the second half, and Zac Chapman put in a floater as time expired to trim the lead to 41-23. Chapman was the lone other Mustang in double figures with 10 points.

“We played better (in the second half),” Leonard said. “Just when you lose your two top scorers and ball handlers, it hurts. The guys will figure out how they can contribute, and they will. They did play harder in the second half.”

Billingsley hosts Verbena High School on Jan. 31 for its next game at 6 p.m. Isabella hosts Maplesville High School on the same day at 7 p.m.