OCALA – The first district meeting of the season between The Villages and host Trinity Catholic lived up to the billing.
A near capacity crowd provided a playoff-type atmosphere at Trinity Catholic for a Class 5A-District 5 showdown. It was a see-saw affair that had the defending 5A state semifinalists from The Villages up by seven early but down by 12 in the second half.
So, with the game on the line, The Villages turned to its star junior guard.
Trey Mann, who holds offers from Florida, USC, Alabama and FSU, among others, scored 15 of his game-high 29 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, while playing with four fouls, and the Buffalo (11-2, 4-0) survived on the road with an 83-76 win.
Junior Adrian McCray made one of two free throws with 0.2 seconds left to tie the game at 66-66 and send the game into overtime.
Mann had eight in the overtime period, while junior Ezekiel Williamsonbey scored six to help the Buffalo stay unbeaten in league play. Williamsonbey finished with 20 points off the bench, although he did get the start in the second half.
The Villages struggled from the free throw line in regulation, making just 11-of-23 attempts. However, the Buffalo made 7-of-8 in the extra period to seal it.
Junior Byron Smith, a transfer from P.K. Yonge (Gainesville), fouled out with 10 seconds left in regulation with 18 points, but he was also instrumental in leading the Buffalo to the come-from-behind victory, including a three-pointer and a big and-one in the fourth quarter.
Junior Dominic Pugh finished with 19 points for the Celtics (10-4, 2-1), who had their four game winning streak snapped. He was one of four players in double figures for Trinity Catholic. Junior Montez Leath, who is first cousins with Mann and transferred from the Villages this season, was next with 18, followed by freshman Ike Gainey (16) and senior Devin Mayo (10).
Trinity Catholic will host South Sumter (Bushnell) on Tuesday night, while The Villages will have a week off before hosting South Sumter next Friday.
The Villages will host Trinity Catholic on Jan. 24 in what could be the second of four meetings this season between the Buffalo and the Celtics.