Despite a valiant 33-point effort from senior Morgan Johnson in what turned out to be her final game, the Manchester Lady Greyhounds saw their 2015-16 come to an end in a Division IV sectional final game on Feb. 13 at Northwest High School. After upsetting number six seeded Sciotoville East in the opening round, the Lady Hounds faced off with a familiar foe, the Fairfield Lady Lions, in the sectional championship game, a team that had beaten them twice in the regular season.
Despite a furious fourth quarter rally led by the three-point shooting of freshmen McKenzie Smith and Darrington White, the Lady Hounds fell short and were eliminated from the postseason by the Lady Lions by a final score of 60-55.
Though the Lady Lions had won both regular season meetings handily, the Manchester girls had different ideas in this tourney match up. Manchester held a 12-9 lead after one quarter, but saw the Lady Lions rally in the second period with some pinpoint outside shooting to take the lead. Despite Johnson scoring 17 of their 19 first-half points, the Lady Hounds found themselves trailing 28-19 at the half.
A pair of three-point baskets by C.J. Hobbs kept Manchester within striking distance in the third quarter before an 8-0 Fairfield run pushed them out to a 48-33 lead. A Johnson trey ended the third period with the Lady Hounds down 48-36 and time running out on their season.
Trailing 54-43 with just over three minutes to play, Manchester got back to back three-pointers from the two freshmen, White and Smith, to very quickly slice the Fairfield lead down to five. Two free throws by White made it 54-51 Fairfield and when Smith hit another long bomb and then a free throw, the Lady Hounds were down just 56-55 with time running out. After a Fairfield basket, the Hounds had a chance to tie but misfired on a three-point attempt and when the Lady Lions’ Grace Shope nailed two foul shots in the final seconds, Fairfield had escaped the Manchester upset attempt, holding on for the 60-55 win.
Johnson finished out an outstanding four years with the Lady Hounds, racking up 33 points in her career finale, including 14 of 21 from the free throw line. The rest of the Manchester points came from the future of a very young program, with freshmen Darrington White and McKenzie Smith getting 9 and 7 points respectively, and sophomore C. J. Hobbs adding 6.
After struggling for most of the season, Coach Jacie Simon and her Lady Hounds showed vast improvement in the campaign’s final weeks, splitting their final six contests and finishing with an overall record of 4-19.
MHS 12 7 17 19 —55
FHS 9 19 20 12 —60
MHS (55): Johnson 33, Smith 7, White 9, Hobbs 6
FHS (60): Shope 11, Polley 15, Adams 6, Barnes 10, C. Arnold 8, L. Arnold 3, Huff 5, Newkirk 2