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Sluggish start dooms Grizzlies in 2-point home defeat

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Junior forward Jon Thompson had a game-high 30 points to lead visiting Manchester to a 67-65 victory against Franklin College Thursday night.

A late arrival by the Spartans delayed the start of the game by 45 minutes, and it played right into a slow start for the Grizzlies.

In fact, Franklin didn’t get its first basket until 13:47 by guard J.T. Barton, a Center Grove graduate.

Barton was subbing for senior Bailey Howard, who’s averaging 24.3 points per game. Howard injured his left shoulder in Saturday’s game against Earlham and will be out three to four weeks games.

Also not seeing action because of a broken nose was freshman guard Robbie Prather, who scored 16 points in the Franklin Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference win against Earlham.

Manchester, which came into the game with an 0-4 league record and a 1-10 record overall, took advantage early with its inside game.

Franklin sophomore center Dion Smith, who was held scoreless in the first half, rallied the Grizzlies to open the second half to trim the Martinsville lead to one point at 43-42 with 13 minutes remaining.

Freshman forward Matt Niehoff knocked down a three-pointer from the corner, evening the score at 45-45. The Grizzlies grabbed their first lead of the game, after being down by as many as 10 points in the first half, on a fast-break layup by Niehoff.

But Manchester roared back with back-to-back three-point plays by Blake Brouwer and Grant Newlin to give the Spartans a 55-53 lead.

The Grizzlies (6-6, 3-2) travel to rival Anderson on Saturday.

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