After earlier in the week sewing up the small school division championship of the Southern Hills Athletic Conference, Coach John Kennedy and his Manchester eighth grade girls basketball squad opened up conference tournament play on Saturday, Feb. 5 at Fayetteville High School. Facing the Lady Hounds were the Eastern Lady Warriors, hungry for an upset with a berth in the tournament semi-finals on the table.
After an offensively challenged first half, the two teams opened up in the final two quarters and it was the Lady Hounds who held off an Eastern comeback to claim their 10th win of the season, 28-22, a win that moved them to the SHAC semi-final round.
“It wasn’t pretty by any means, but at this point it’s about winning and advancing,” said Coach Kennedy. “Give Eastern Brown their credit, their kids played hard and made our girls earn it. It was a typical tough SHAC game.”
Neither team had any luck on offense in the opening six minutes, combining for just two baskets, one by Manchester’s Brooke Kennedy and the other by Eastern’s Emily Fannin, leaving a not-too-thrilling 2-2 tie after the first period.
The Lady Hounds took the lead on their first possession of the second quarter on an offensive rebound and score by Madison Jones and they never gave it up. After an Eastern free throw, Manchester got a nice baseline drive and score from Jones and a pair of Karigan Turner free throws to open up an 8-3 advantage. The final basket of the first half came at the 2:24 mark of the second period by Eastern’s Camryn Pickerill and that send the two teams to the locker room with the Lady Hounds on top by three.
A basket by Pickerill on the first Lady Warrior possession of the second half cut the Manchester lead to one, but the Lady Hounds had an answer in the form of a 9-0 run, getting a three-pointer from Braxlynn McClanahan, a basket and a free throw from Turner, and then capped by a three from Abby Young and the blue and gold had opened up a double digit lead.
The Lady Warriors didn’t fold then, however, as they battled back with buckets by Maggie Dorsey and Juanita Frost, sandwiched around a basket by Manchester’s Taylor Morrison, and then a three-pointer at the buzzer from the top of the key by Pickerill gave hope to the underdogs as they closed to within 21-14 heading into the final period of action.
Eastern got even closer when they opened the fourth quarter on a 5-1 run to make it 22-19 with 2:21 to play. The Lady Hounds got two more free throws from Turner before she fouled out with 1:54 to go. Manchester pushed the led to four on a free throw by Jones and then perhaps the biggest shot of the night came from the Hounds’ Emily Sweeney as she drilled a three-pointer from the right wing with 1:29 to play that extended the lead out to 28-19.
Those were the last Manchester points of the afternoon but all the Lady Warriors could muster in the final minute were three free throws from Pickerill as time expired with the Lady Hounds on top 28-22 and celebrating a move forward in the SHAC tournament.
That move takes them to a semi-final match up on Wednesday, Feb. 10 at 5 p.m., where they will the Fairfield Lady Lions, who upset Peebles on Saturday to move on. The SHAC semi will take place on the hardwood of Fairfield Junior High School.
In the quarter final win, the Lady Hounds, who are mostly seventh graders playing in the eighth grade league, were led by 7 points apiece from Madison Jones and Karigan Turner (5 for 6 from the foul line), with Abby Young, Emily Sweeney, and Braxlynn McClanahan all adding as they each fired in a three-point goal.
In the loss, Eastern was paced by 11 points from Camryn Pickerill.
EJH 2 3 9 8 —22
MJH 2 6 13 7 —28
EJH (22): Pickerill 4 4-7 11, Frost 1 0-2 2, Dorsey 2 0-0 4, Fannin 1 1-2 3, Team 8 5-11 22.
MJH (29): Turner 1 5-6 7, Young 1 0-0 3, Jones 3 1-2 7, Lucas 0 1-2 1, Kennedy 1 0-0 2, Morrison 1 0-0 2, Sweeney 1 0-0 3, McClanahan 1 0-0 3, Team 9 7-9 28.
EJH- Pickerill 1
MJH- Young 1, Sweeney 1, McClanahan 1