The transition to the fourth head coach in four years has not been an easy one thus far in the 2015-16 season for the Manchester Lady Hounds basketball squad as they find themselves sitting at 1-5 for the year after suffering a pair of lopsided losses in the past week.
New head coach Jacie Simon and her troops hosted the much-improved Fairfield Lady Lions in Southern Hills Athletic Conference play on Thursday, Dec. 10 and after keeping the game close early, the Lady Hounds faded fast as visiting Fairfield rode a game-high 26 points from sophomore Grace Shope as they downed their hosts 64-39.
The first quarter of Thursday’s contest was a tight one, with neither team leading by more than four points. Manchester took an early lead on a steal and layup by C.J. Hobbs but the Lady Lions answered with five straight to go up 7-4. The Lady Hounds tied it up at 7 on an offensive put back and then a later free throw by Morgan Johnson but the Lady Lions got the last two buckets of the initial period to take an 11-7 lead and they never looked back.
“Any time you come down here with the long bus ride and all, you never know quite what to expect,” said Fairfield head coach Chad Hamilton in a post game radio interview. “It wasn’t a great first quarter for us but after that we sort of got back on track.”
After a basket by Manchester’s Raeanna Stamm left the home team behind 13-10 with five minutes left in the first half, the Lady Lions went on a big run, outscoring their hosts 12-1 over the next four minutes to open up a big 25-11 advantage. The final basket of the first half belonged to Manchester’s Kylie Lucas, but it was Fairfield leading by 12 at the break.
In the third period, the Fairfield lead stayed right around that 12-point mark until a basket by Shope and another by Blake Adams extended the margin to 42-24. The Lady Lions finished the third quarter on a 9-4 run and led 46-26 heading into the fourth quarter.
With the outcome all but determined, the visitors continued to build their lead in the fourth quarter, getting seven points from Shope in a two-minute span to move in front 60-29. Give credit to the Lady Hounds for being scrappy, though, as they bowed their backs in spite of the big deficit, and went on a 10-1 run, getting three baskets from the senior Johnson and two from Lucas. The scoring ended on an old-fashioned three-point play by Fairfield’s Olivia Bobb as the Lady Lions picked up their fifth win of the year against just two losses, handing the home team a thorough 64-29 defeat.
In the win, Fairfield was led by Shope’s 26-point effort and she was joined in double figures by Adams with 11 and Macey Paulie with 10.
The Lady Hounds placed two players in double figures, led by Johnson’s 16, with Lucas adding 12.
Things got no better on Monday night for the struggling Lady Hounds as they traveled to Fayetteville for another SHAC contest and left Brown County with another thrashing, losing 94-29 to the host Lady Rockets. The Monday night loss left the Lady Hounds at 1-5 on the season, 0-5 already in the SHAC.
Manchester will get a chance to get back on track on Thursday night, Dec. 17 when they will travel to face county rival West Union with a JV tip off set for 6 p.m.
FHS 11 14 21 18 —64
MHS 7 6 13 13 —39
FHS (64); Shope 26, Adams 11, Huff 4, Tate 5, Newkirk 3, Polley 10, Bobb 5
MHS (39): Johnson 16, Lucas 12, White 2, Stamm 5, Hobbs 3, Campbell 1