Manning steps up for Pioneers, push for WIAC tourny begins

With the help of junior Jake Manning’s double-double, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville men’s basketball team (13-10 Overall, 8-3 WIAC) defeated an almost equally matched opponent University of Wisconsin-Stout Blue Devils (12-11, 7-7) 55-48 at Bo Ryan Court, Feb. 15.

Although Manning racked up 18 points and pulled in 10 boards throughout the night, he still credited his team for his own success, as well as the overall outcome of the game.

“It was a team effort, as it always has to be for us to win,” Manning said.

Although senior Chas Cross has been the Pioneers’ driving force throughout the season, other influential teammates helped bring the team to victory.

Attributing his 12 points to good ball movement and up-tempo play, sophomore Boston Johnson was another valuable asset in the Pioneers’ victory over the Blue Devils.

“We never stopped moving, which allowed more opportunities for me to score,” Johnson said.

The Blue Devils, who consistently express their competitive nature, saw their only lead of the game become diminished late in the first period, as the Pioneers went on an 11-4 run by halftime and were up 29-26.

The Pioneers would control the lead for rest of the second half, as the Blue Devils’ closest rally brought them within two with 3:29 left in the game, but one of Johnson’s clutch mid-range jumpers dwindled the hopes of the Blue Devils’ chances at making a solid comeback.

With the victory Saturday night, along with a pair of lower echelon wins against University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and University of Wisconsin-River Falls this week, the Pioneers would clinch a four seed in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Association Conference.

“We are taking these games one at a time, with each having a 1-0 mentality,” Johnson said.

The Pioneers are in a solid position to make a strong run towards a conference championship, as well as an NCAA tournament playoff appearance.

With more strong performances from Manning and Johnson, as well as solid play from seniors Cross and Eric Gerber, the Pioneers have developed a firm grip on the competition.

They were tested again last night against the UW-Eau Claire at Bo Ryan Court.