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Tesoro guards Blake Manning (2) and Carson Brown (1) come out of the game in the fourth quarter during a CIF-Southern Section high school basketball playoff game against Marina, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023 at Tesoro High School in Las Flores, Calif. The two players have played togther since middle school and have created an on-court chemistry. (Ryan Kuhn, SOCoPrepSports.com)

Basketball

Blake Manning, Carson Brown’s on-court chemistry shows Tesoro boys basketball’s togetherness 

The senior duo combines for 44 points in a first round playoff win over Marina

LAS FLORES — On the dawn of the CIF-Southern Section playoffs, Tesoro boys basketball coach Steve Garrett talked about his team’s togetherness.

“Let’s take advantage of the friendship that we get everyday and and play the game,” Garrett said. “That’s what we focus on.”

That togetherness was obvious on the court Wednesday night.  Titan guards Carson Brown and Blake Manning combined for 44 points, outscoring Marina in a 70-37 first round win. 

“I love passing to this man,” said Manning acknowledging Brown. “This man makes me look good and gave me all my assist records because he doesn’t miss.”

The duo friendship started in middle school when they played on the same team in a March Madness basketball tournament. 

After they arrived at Tesoro they still had to figure out how to effectively play with each other. 

“We were a little selfish while on JV,” Manning said with a smile. “Both of us wanted to take shots.”

It wasn’t long before the two started to gel while at the varsity level. 

“We have just known each other for so long,” Brown said. “Over time that chemistry has grown.”

Whether it was Manning lobbing it up to Jake Bennett on the opening play of the game or Brown nailing a 3-pointer on the wing, they led the Titans to an 18-8 lead and it only grew from there. 

“They are both very smart players and they complement each other’s abilities,” Garrett said. “I’m so proud of them.”

Tesoro found its stride throughout the second quarter where Manning and Brown led the charge.

Manning hit back-to-back layups while Brown found his touch from range. The Titans outscored Marina 19-4 with the Vikings only field goal coming from a a 3-pointer by 10.

“I loved our defense,” Garrett said. “We want to be consistent and that has been key for us.”

Tesoro continued to push forward throughout the second half and Brown and Manning started to get their teammates involved. 

Bennett and forward Nathan Draper muscled their way over the defense for defensive rebounds and well, Brown and Manning continued to do their thing.

Brown finished with a game-high 26 points and nine rebounds while Manning finished with 18 points. 

I felt like all of our shorts were falling,” said Manning, who also finished with six rebounds and five assists. “We just had to move the ball on offense and any open look, I feel like we would make.”

Tesoro even got some scoring from its bench with makes by seniors Bailey Poyser and Keegan Poston. Manning and Brown, of course, cheered them on. 

The Titans will look to continue their momentum on Friday when it hosts Crescenta Valley and while their star  duo felt good about a dominant first round win, they aren’t even close to finishing their story. 

“We have something to prove,” Manning said. “We are trying to win this and this is our last go at a CIF championship.”

Ryan was born and raised in Dana Point went to Dana Hills High School. He graduated from Sacramento State University with a BA in Journalism. Throughout his career as a sports journalist, he has covered high schools, colleges, and professional teams. After working for multiple newspapers in as many states, he came to the conclusion that what he really wanted was to make sure the high schools in his hometown area got the sports coverage they deserved. Follow him on Twitter @rskuhn

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