One look at Manual coach Donnie Bowling in the locker room late Saturday night at Tech told the story. The $5 ticket to the City tournament semifinals was worth the price of admission.
Bowling stood alone against a wall, trying to control his emotions. Just a few minutes earlier, his Manual team had punched its ticket into Monday’s City championship in the most dramatic fashion possible.
After a back-and-forth fourth quarter, Crispus Attucks coach Chris Hawkins called timeout with eight seconds left and his team trailing by one. On the ensuing inbounds play, with the ball under the Attucks basket, senior Nike Sibande slipped free on the left block and scored.
Manual quickly inbounded to Cameron Sembly, who pushed ahead and bounced a crosscourt pass to his left to Courvoisier McCauley, Manual’s 30-point-per-game senior. McCauley pulled up a foot in front of the volleyball line and let it fly as Micah Poole attempted to take a charge and Jamal Harris defended from his right side.
Nothing but net. Manual 80, Crispus Attucks 78.
Cue the tears from Bowling, who raced around the court like Jimmy Valvano looking for somebody to hug.
“I don’t know how I hit it man,” McCauley said. “It was a perfect release and I saw it go in. I know there were (defenders) around me. But all I was looking at was the rim.”
No. 2 seed Manual (11-1) will play top-seeded Cathedral, a 64-62 winner over Howe in Saturday’s first semifinal, at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Tech. Manual hasn’t won City since 1998 and only has two City titles (the other in 1983) since the 1939-40 season.
Manual lost a double-overtime heartbreaker, 95-88, to Attucks in last year’s sectional semifinal. This time, the Tigers were on the other end of the heartbreak. First-year coach Hawkins stood in front of the scorer’s table as Manual celebrated on the court, waiting to shake hands. Finally, he just shrugged and smiled.
“Courvoisier had been struggling with his shot all night,” Bowling said. “Finally, it got lifted from his shoulders. I was just so happy for him. He asked if he was doing something wrong and I told him to just keep shooting. Finally, it went in. It went in.”
McCauley finished with a team-high 24 points. Jalen Johnson, a 6-8 sophomore, added 22 points and nine rebounds. T.J. Waldon and Jaron Glenn each had 12 points.
Attucks (9-4) battled back from a nine-point halftime deficit, sparked by a stellar second half from Sibande. The senior guard scored 19 of his 28 points after halftime. Sibande scored on a drive with 17 seconds left to pull Attucks to 77-76.
After a Manual turnover, Sibande passed out to Zac Owens on the left wing. His 3-point attempt rolled around and out but went off a Manual player out of bounds. After a timeout, Sibande slipped free and scored to put third-seeded Attucks ahead.
Bowling didn’t have a timeout left to set anything up. But it came out perfect.
“That was the biggest shot of my career,” McCauley said. “All season I’ve been wanting something like that to happen. They beat us last year in the sectional and I told myself I never wanted to feel that pain again. This time, I hit the shot.”
Cathedral rallied from a seven-point halftime deficit in the opener Saturday. James Franklin scored 18 of his game-high 23 points in the first half and senior Tra Landers scored all of his 17 points in the second half to lead the Irish.
“I’m proud of how they kept battling,” said Cathedral coach Jason Delaney. “That’s a tough team to put away. They keep coming at you.”
Tony Hopkins led fifth-seeded Howe (10-6) with 16 points.
Call IndyStar reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649. Follow him on Twitter: @KyleNeddenriep.
CATHEDRAL 64, HOWE 62
Howe 13 19 15 15 — 62
Cathedral 7 18 20 19 — 64
Howe (10-6) – Washington 11, Couch 7, Sultzer 9, Hopkins 16, Pannell 5, Rush 14. Totals: 25 11-13 62.
Cathedral (10-5) – Franklin 23, Landers 17, Jackson 3, Coleman 9, Goggans 6, Kendrick 4.
MANUAL 80, CRISPUS ATTUCKS 78
Crispus Attucks 19 19 25 15 — 78
Manual 21 26 17 16 — 80
Attucks (9-4) – Scanlan 9, Cooley 4, Harris 13, Sibande 28, Briscoe 7, Beatty 2, Poole 2.
Manual (11-1) – Sembly 4, Merriweather 6, McCauley 24, Johnson 22, Waldon 12, Glenn 12.