ELIDA – It didn’t take Shawnee senior standout George Mangas very long to make a statement.
In fact, it took just seven seconds into Thursday’s Division II regional semifinal boys basketball game against Shelby, for last season’s Division II Player of the Year to give his team the lead.
Mangas went on to score a game-high 39 points, to lead Shawnee to a 76-67 victory over Shelby in a Division II boys regional semifinal at the Elida Fieldhouse.
With the victory, Shawnee (24-1) will take on Akron Buchtel (21-4) for a D-II regional championship Saturday at the Elida Fieldhouse with tip-off set for 2 p.m.
Akron Buchtel defeated Toledo Central Catholic in the first semifinal Thursday at the Elida Fieldhouse, 68-51.
Mangas had two 3-pointers and was 5 of 6 shooting from the free throw line. Teammate Caden Vermillion had 13 points on 5 of 6 shooting. Tyson Elwer had eight points and 10 rebounds for the Indians.
TJ Pugh led Shelby (20-4) with 32 points on 11 of 19 shooting. Teammate Andre Hill added 16 points for the Whippets.
Shawnee found itself on its heels in the fourth quarter, as the Indians had to make a run to secure the victory.
“We talked a lot about getting back to this chance,” Shawnee head coach Mark Triplett said. “We said, ‘Here we are. We’re down six with six minutes left, and they aren’t going to give you an inch’.
“They just rallied around each other; and I think we ended the game on a 19-4 run. We’re really, really proud of them.”
Shawnee scored right off the opening tip, as Mangas took it to the rim for the game’s first two points – which took just seven seconds.
Shelby came back to knot the score at 2.
But that was when Shawnee took off.
The Indians picked up the tempo, and raced out to a 29-19 lead by the end of the first quarter.
Mangas scored 18 first-quarter points. He also eclipsed the 2,000-career point mark in the first stanza.
Shelby battled back.
The Whippets cut it to 8, 38-30, with 1:45 left to play in first half on a free throw by Andre Hill.
Shelby wasn’t done.
With 1:14 left in the half, Hill nailed a 3-pointer from the right wing to cut it to 5, 38-33.
Then just seconds later, Pugh made a steal and took it to the basket to cut it to 3, 38-35.
The Whippets cut it to 38-36 with 46 seconds left in the half on a free throw by Hill.
Shawnee managed to slip into the halftime break with a 42-36 advantage.
The Whippets outscored Shawnee 17-13 in the second stanza.
The Indians shot a blistering 63 percent from the floor in the first half. Mangas ended the first half with 21 points, on 9 of 14 shooting.
Elwer scored six points and pulled down eight rebounds in the first half for the Indians.
Shelby kept coming.
With 4:15 left in the third quarter, Hill hit a trey from the right corner to knot the game at 50.
Then, with 2:49 left in the third, Marshall Shepherd put Shelby up 55-54 on a put back.
Shelby led again, 58-57, on an inside move by Pugh. That 1-point lead held up to the third stop.
Shelby made a run in the fourth quarter.
The Whippets pushed out to a 63-59 lead by the 6:30 mark.
But Shawnee would not be denied.
The Indians came back to reclaim the lead, 64-63, on a breakaway layup by Mangas.
Shawnee pulled away in the final three minutes to notch the victory.
“They had an opportunity to take it away from us,” Triplett said. “This basketball team looked really hungry at the other end of the court. I thought the box-and-one would give us a chance. I’m really proud of them.”
For the game, Shawnee shot 65 percent from the field. Shelby connected on 46 percent of its field goal attempts.
Added Mangas, “We weren’t going to be denied. We wanted it really bad.”
Akron Buchtel 68,
Toledo Central Catholic 51
In Thursday’s opener, Akron Buchtel pulled away in the second half to record a convincing 17-point win over Toledo Central Catholic.
Marcel Boyce, Jr. led Akron Buchtel with 25 points, on 10 of 14 shooting from the field. Teammate Chris Livingston, scored 21 points and pulled down nine rebounds.
Isaiah Brenneman led Toledo Central Catholic (7-12) with 18 points, including three 3-pointers. Chico Johnson added 10 points and four assists for TCC.
Akron Buchtel led 16-8 at the end of the first quarter, and 30-24 at the halftime break.
Buchtel started to pull away in the third quarter, as the Griffins outscored the Fighting Irish 21-9 and led 51-33 at the third stop.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.