The Manchester boys basketball team is playing in its third state championship game in the past decade on Friday. It won a title in 2007, lost to Laney in 2012 and must top Pace Academy (4:45 p.m. at the Macon Coliseum) to get back on top.
The Blue Devils have hit their stride late this season, having won 19 straight after starting the season 6-5. Coach Curtis Noble said the team’s balanced attack — inside and outside, offense and defense — has been the main contributor to their success.
On Friday, though, they’ll go against a team with a significant size advantage. Pace Academy is led by consensus five-star recruit Wendell Carter, who is being recruited by the likes of Duke and Kentucky. Carter is 6-foot-10 and just one of a handful of lengthy players on the roster. According to the roster provided on MaxPreps, six of Pace Academy’s players stand at least 6-foot-3.
“They’re a different style of team,” Noble said. “They’re a half-court team that is very athletic. But we can’t afford to play in a half-court game with them. We have to play our style of ball.”
That means getting up and down the court, and fast.
Manchester is led by Demarcus Addie, who averages 20 points per game this year. Noble called him the “go-to guy” on the offense. The plan for Addie and company is to push the pace as much as possible.
“We don’t want to allow them to get a rest or a breather,” Noble said. “(Carter) is a smart player, so it’s unlikely he will get in foul trouble. We just want to wear on him.”
So far this year, the group has bought into that approach for Manchester. Noble said that about nine or 10 players share playing time, which helps keep everyone fresh late in games. They’ll need it to overcome Pace Academy on Friday.
“It’s a concern how they’ll handle it, and we’ve talked about that,” Noble said. “We talked about how to release that energy. You can’t do it all at one time. You have to be patient and smart in how you attack the opponent. That’s what we’re going to try to do.”
The game will tip off at 4:45 p.m. at the Macon Coliseum in Macon, Ga.