An all-county varsity girls basketball battle came to Manchester High School on Monday, Jan. 19 as the Lady Hounds welcomed to town the Peebles Lady Indians. The Lady Hounds have been struggling with just one win on the season while the Lady Indians were looking to inch closer to the .500 mark, and led by 25 points from senior Kaitlin Toller, it was Peebles getting their seventh win of the season, downing their hosts 46-33.
It was a big night for Toller as she racked up the 25 points and was especially impressive at the free throw line in the fourth quarter, helping to hold off a Manchester rally by sinking 10 of 10 from the strip over the final eight minutes.
The first half of Monday night’s contest was a referee’s dream, two teams laying back in zone defenses and content to pass the ball numerous times on offense looking for that perfect shot, therefore there was little need for the whistles as only four total fouls were even called in the first two periods.
The Lady Indians got the early jump in the slow-paced first quarter, with a jumper by Jerilin Toller and then a three from the corner from sister Kaitlin gave them a 5-0 lead. The only Manchester basket of the entire first period came from C.J. Hobbs at the 4:21 mark, but the rest of the stanza belonged to Peebles as back to back three-pointers from Jessica Sowards propelled the visitors to a 11-2 advantage after one.
The offense on both sides picked up a little in the second quarter as did the pace of the game. The Lady Hounds finally got their second bucket of the night with 5:45 to go in the half, this one from Raeanna Stamm, but the Lady Indians answered that with consecutive threes from Toller and a pair of Sowards free throws to extend their lead to 21-4 in what appeared to be the beginnings of a major rout.
Manchester got a three-pointer from Morgan Johnson, matched by Toller’s third trey of the quarter, and when Sowards fired in another long distance bomb at the buzzer, the Lady Indians took a seemingly comfortable 27-10 lead into the halftime break.
Coach Jacie Simon must have lit a fire under her troops during the intermission as they Lady Hounds came out a different looking group as the third quarter began. Two things made a huge difference in the play of the Lady Hounds-first, a switch to a tight man-to-man defense that seemed to throw the Lady Indian offense out of kilter and second, the play of the senior Johnson. Held to just three first-half points, Johnson took over the game in the third period, at one point personally outscoring the entire Peebles team 11-1 after her old-fashioned three-point play pulled Manchester back to within 28-21.
After McKinlee Ryan hit a pair of free throws for Peebles, Johnson nailed a three from deep and then a bucket by Josie Campbell in the final seconds saw the third stanza close with Peebles still on top, but now just by a score of 31-26.
As the fourth quarter began, Coach Vohn Hoop and his Lady Indians went for the patient approach against the Manchester defense, running their set offense over and over and over, until they usually ended up at the free throw line. Peebles went 8 for 8 from the line in the first two and a half minutes of the final period, all 8 of them coming from Toller, as the guest pushed their lead back out to double digits. A Johnson basket temporarily halted the Peebles run, but a Ryan free throw and a nice drive through the defense and to the hole for a score by Jerilin Toller put the Lady Indians firmly in the driver’s seat, up 42-18 with three minutes to play.
Darrington White drilled a three-pointer for the Lady Hounds and a nice drive to the basket by Hobbs resulted in the last Manchester score of the night, but it was too little, too late as the Lady Indians picked up the non-conference win on the road by a final count of 46-33.
Toller’s 25 led the Lady Indians (7-9) in the victory, with her point total including a trio of second quarter three points and an 11 for 14 perfromance from the foul line. Jessica Sowards also hit double figures for the winners, scoring 11 points, also hitting three from behind the arc.
Manchester (1-13) was led by Morgan Johnson’s 19 points, 16 of those coming in her big second half. Freshman Darrington White added 5 for the Lady Hounds.
Despite the weather, both teams were back in action on Thursday, Jan. 21, and both in Southeren Hills Athletic Conference play on the road, as the Lady Hounds traveled to Whiteoak and the Lady Indians went to Fayetteville.