Senior-laden Lady Hounds looking for big things with new leader
Franklin returns for second stint as head coach
For the Manchester Lady Greyhounds, it’s a return engagement at the head coaching position as Jason Franklin comes back to the helm, replacing Coach P.J. Wagner. It is not Franklin’s first rodeo with the Lady Hounds as he also led the Lady Hounds from 2000 to 2005 and also coached the Manchester varsity boys in the early 1990’s, while teaching at the school for many years.
Any time a new coach comes in, it is a period of adjustment and that will take some time for Franklin and his troops to become accustomed to each other and at press time, the team stood at 2-2 for the season, with wins over Portsmouth and Whiteoak and losses to South Webster and North Adams.
This is a Lady Greyhound team with high expectation, with many think that this has to be the “year” for a team that has four seniors and returns four starters from last year’s sectional championship squad. Their only losses to graduation were Taylor Himes and McKaylan Stamper and seniors Haylee Adams, Hannah Rideout, Rainelle Casey, and Jaylynd Boyd return. (Boyd is currently sidelined by injury.)
“If we can keep a positive attitude, give consistent good effort, and play as a team, then we should do quite well,” said Franklin in summing up his thoughts on the season.
In past year’s the Lady Hounds have thrived on their defense, both in the half court and the full court, and that continue this season.
“We will play a mixture of man and zone defense,” said Franklin, whose team averaged double digits in steals in the 2012-13 campaign.
On offense, the point guard position will again be manned by now sophomore Morgan Johnson, who gained valuable experience at that position last season, while averaging nearly 7 points a game. Johnson is also a ball-hawk on defense, usually leading the half court pressure and should again be among the league leaders in steals.
The Lady Hounds also return their leading scorer in the 5”11” senior Rideout, who put up 11 per game last season. If the Manchester post player can become a consistent shooter from in close during her senior year, then the sky is the limit. Senior Casey also averaged double figures last season and figures again to be an integral part of the fast-paced Greyhound offense.
“On offense, we will get up and down the floor but we also will need to control the tempo as we don’t have a lot of depth,” says Franklin. “We really have about seven full-time varsity players.”
Along with Johnson and Casey, the Hounds have some other outside shooting threat, especially in Adams, who was one of the team’s leading three-point shooters in 2012-13, while averaging just over 9 points a game.
Also part of the Lady Hounds’ starting lineup is the versatile 5”11” junior Tess Burns, who can be used either inside or outside and if she can remain healthy and then out of foul trouble, could be a real key to the team’s success.
“I need Rideout, Casey, and Burns to be strong rebounders,” said Coach Franklin. “Johnson at the point needs to look to distribute the ball and score when the opportunity is there. Adams will play the point some, but mostly the two spot. I am looking for consistent outside shooting from her. Any of those girls could lead our team in scoring on any given night.”
In the early portion of the schedule, the first player off the bench for Franklin has been sophomore Summer Wilbur, who has quickness and a “no-fear” attitude on the court. Sophomore Bethany Sweeney has also seen some early playing time.
“I need Summer to give us some strong defense and then be able to play a variety of positions,” added Franklin.
Even with their returning core, the Lady Hounds were not give much respect from the league’s coaches in the C-103 Coaches Poll as they were picked to place third in the small school division of the Southern Hills Athletic Conference, behind unanimous first place pick Fayetteville and then Ripley.
“I think North Adams and Fayetteville are likely the league’s top two teams”, says Franklin.
The Lady Hounds will get two shots at each of the two teams picked above them as they were at Fayetteville on Dec. 9. a very tough road task and will entertain the Lady Rockets at the Hound Pound on Jan. 13. They will host Ripley on Jan. 2 and head down Route 52 for the rematch on Jan. 27. Toss in two dates with North Adams (one already a 47-28 defeat in the Coach Young Classic) and two more possible match ups with Peebles and the schedule can look daunting.
“If we can stay healthy, work hard, and limit the turnovers each game, then we have a chance to be pretty successful,” said Coach Franklin.
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