WINONA LAKE – He’s been in the scenario dozens of times before in his career, what’s another one? And like so many times before, Kyle Mangas has delivered in the biggest moments.
Mangas hit another mega shot once again Tuesday night, drilling a three-pointer to get his Indiana Wesleyan basketball team past Grace, 87-85, in a thriller at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center.
“I practice those shots in the summer. They don’t always fall, tonight it did,” Mangas said following the win. Mangas, a 2017 Warsaw Community High School graduate, became legend with his clutch baskets during his prep career and into his first three years in Marion. “I try to have the spirit of fearlessness and always be ready to take the shot when needed and be ready to be on the attack.”
Trailing 85-84 and precious seconds ticking away on the No. 2-ranked Wildcats, a missed Charlie Warner free throw allowed IWU to move the ball up Kessler Court and into the hands of Mangas. Moving off a simple screen at the top of the arc, Mangas caught and popped a wide open look for the triple, his third trey of the night. Mangas would wrap up another showcase evening in front of his hometown crowd with 35 points, five rebounds, three assists, three steals and a quiet, yet efficient 13-26 shooting performance.
“I wasn’t comfortable with how we played, Grace really did outplay us for most of the night,” said IWU head coach Greg Tonagel. “Give them credit and Scott (Moore) has done a great job with his group. I asked the guys to stay within contention and they didn’t let the adversity get them down. When the ball is in Mangas’ hands, you always feel good about something good happening. Tonight he hit the big shot for us.”
Mangas’ late heroics were absolutely needed as Grace was on upset alert in playing its sixth straight ranked opponent in the Crossroads League. The Lancers, which led by as much as seven points in the second half, looked as though it would be able to sneak one out after Braxton Linville nailed a three to give Grace an 82-79 lead. Matt Jennings then gave Grace the lead back after hitting a runner in traffic to put Grace up 84-83.
After Seth Maxwell hit a bucket to give the Wildcats the edge, Warner hit the front end of a pair of free throws, but his second attempt went back iron, setting up Mangas’ shot.
“Tonight was a great game to be a part of,” said Grace College head coach Scott Moore. “Although not pleased about the outcome, I am proud of my boys and the way they continue to compete at a high level. It’s coming. Our goal is to be better tomorrow and that will be our focus.”
Haden Deaton led the Lancers (13-8, 5-4 CL) with 24 points and seven rebounds, but fouled out with four minutes left in the game. Warner ended with 20 points and both Jennings and Jaret Sons had 15 points.
Maxwell had 14 points and 10 rebounds for IWU (18-3, 8-1 CL) and Noah Smith had 11 points and four offensive rebounds.
Mangas said wins like Tuesday night are becoming common place all over the Crossroads League.
“We expect this every night in the Crossroads,” offered Mangas. “Grace is very impressive. Offensively, they have so many threats in guys who can knock down shots. They can score the ball at will. They are tough, and give them credit tonight. They hit us with a lot of punches, we just were fortunate to get one more in.”