7th and 8th grade girls both get wins over visiting Northwest –
Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –
It was a successful beginning to the 2016-17 junior high girls basketball season for the squads from Manchester Junior High as they entertained the Northwest Lady Mohawks on Monday, Nov. 28 in the Hound Pound in Manchester. The husband and wife coaching duo of John and Jill Kennedy went home happy as their seventh and eight grade teams swept the night, with Jill’s seventh graders winning 29-13 and John’s eighth grade gang winning 49-27.
It looks like a good year is in store for both of the MJH girls’ squads, especially if Monday night was any indication, as both teams grabbed relatively easy victories, though the struggle was a little more for the seventh grade, who found themselves trailing the Lady Mohawks 8-3 after one quarter of play. That changed quickly in the second period as the Lady Hounds scored the first nine points, holding Northwest scoreless until the final 30 seconds of the stanza. The 9-0 run began with a basket by Sophia Paul and then came seven straight points from McKenzie Morrison, including a three pointer and at the half, it was Manchester now in front, but just by a 12-10 margin.
The seventh grade Lady Hounds pulled away after halftime, holding the visitor scoreless for six minutes, while putting up nine of their own, beginning with two baskets by Kileigh Mitchell, another by Morrison, and one by Jada Francis. After three quarters of action, the Manchester girls now held a 21-10 lead.
Northwest scored the first three points of the fourth period, but that was all they would get as the Lady Hounds finished things off, getting two more buckets from Francis and two offensive rebounds and scores from Zoe Arnold as they claimed the 29-13 win.
A balanced scoring attack by the home team was paced by 9 points from Morrison, 8 from Francis, 6 from Arnold, and 4 from Mitchell. The Manchester girls took an amazing 66 shots in the game, a lot of that due to hauling in 23 offensive rebounds. Their defense was solid, forcing 34 Northwest turnovers.
8 2 0 3 –13
3 9 9 8 –29
Northwest (13): Montgomery 5, Knittel 5, Jenkins 1, Lewis 2
Manchester (29): Mitchell 4, Paul 2, J. Francis 8, Morrison 9, Arnold 6
Coach John Kennedy then brought his very talented eighth grade group to the court, a group with high expectations after playing up in the eighth grade league last season as seventh graders. They lived up to expectations in their first outing, putting up a huge 22 points in the first quarter on their way to a 49-27 triumph.
The scoring began early when Manchester’s Emily Sweeney drained a three from the wing and continued when Brooke Kennedy did the same from the top of the key, giving her team an 8-3 advantage. The Lady Hounds then finished the first quarter with a 14-0 run, fueled by an old-fashioned three-point play by Sydney Cox and baskets by Karigan Turner and Abby Young. Two buckets on the inside by Cox finished off an impressive 22-3 quarter for the home side.
The Lady Mohawks rebounded from that first quarter bombardment to use a three-pointer to pull within 25-10, but Sweeney answered that with her second trey of the game, this time from the corner to make it 28-10. Northwest got the next two scores, but Kennedy got a bucket with five seconds left before the break to give her team a 30-14 halftime lead.
A nice baseline drive and score by Turner began the third period and two later Kennedy free throws extended the lead to 36-16. Two free throws from Sweeney and a basket by Kiersten Saunders left the Lady Hounds leading comfortably 42-17 after three periods.
With the big lead, the Lady Hounds may have let off the gas a bit in the fourth quarter, but still got baskets from Braxlynn McClanahan and Yasmin Lucas to stay well in front. A Kennedy three-pointer with 1:45 to play was the final icing on the cake in a 49-27 opening night win for the Lady Hounds.
Like their seventh grade counterparts, the MJH eighth grade girls had a balanced scoring attack, led by 12 points from Brooke Kennedy. Also hitting double figures was Emily Sweeney with 10, followed by Sydney Cox with 9 and Karigan Turner with 8. The Lady Hounds shot 51% from the field and hit 4 of 8 three-point attempts, while scoring 24 points in the paint.
“The eighth graders started out just the total opposite of the seventh graders,” said Coach John Kennedy. “The seventh graders were a little too excited and started slow, but their eighth graders showed their experience and started out red hot. Jumping out to an early lead like that was a good way to start our season and ended up being a good win for us. We shot the ball well and passed the ball well, getting 15 assists on our 19 made field goals.”
“We got a little loose with the ball and our passes in the second half and that is something we need to tighten up. Defensively, we played okay, but we just didn’t rebound well enough, but we will address that in practice.”
After their season opening wins, the Lady Hounds face a much tougher task when they open Southern Hills Athletic Conference play on Saturday, Dec. 3 when they host two very tough squads from North Adams.
Northwest 3 11 3 10 –27
Manchester 22 8 12 7 –49
Northwest (27): Webb 7, Throckmorton 1, Brumfield 9, Eury 6, Wamsley 4
Manchester (49): Turner 8, Creamer 2, Young 2, Lucas 2, Kennedy 12, Sweeney 10, Cox 9, Saunders 2, B. McClanahan 2
Northwest (2): Webb 2
Manchester (4): Kennedy 2, Sweeney 2