Freshmen lead Manchester into second place in SHAC –
By Mark Carpenter –
All of the stars were aligned for a big night at Manchester High School on Thursday, Feb. 1 as the Lady Hounds played host to the Peebles Lady Indians in a match up of county rivals in the Southern Hills Athletic Conference. Manchester head coach Vohn Hoop was looking for his 100th career varsity victory, and looking to get it against a team he had coached for six years. The Lady Hounds were looking to avenge an earlier season loss to Peebles, and the winner of the game would take a firm hold on second place in the small school division of the SHAC, a division already clinched by the Fairfield Lady Lions.
Both teams are led by freshmen, with Jacey Justice the leading scorer for the Lady Indians, and the Lady Hounds often times playing with four frosh on the court in Brooke Kennedy, Sydnie Cox, Emily Sweeney, and Karigan Turner. On Thursday, it was the Manchester group who shone brightest as Cox, Sweeney, and Kennedy combined for 42 points as the Lady Hounds gave Coach Hoop his 100th win in eight seasons as a head coach, turning in one of their best all-around performances of the season and knocking off their visiting rival by a final score of 66-51.
“What a great group of kids I have here,” said Coach Hoop after his historic win. “We have a lot of young talent and our older kids stepped up tonight, it was just a great team effort. I thought other than a few turnovers, we held our composure pretty well.”
“I finished the game with four freshmen on the floor, so we are kind of playing varsity basketball with what would normally be a JV team, but we have 11 wins now. We were picked last or next-to-last and we’re going to finish second in the conference. I give all the credit to the kids, coaches don’t win games, it’s all about the players.”
As expected, the two teams went right at each other from the opening tip, with Manchester scoring the game’s first six points, but Peebles answered with a 10-0 run that included a pair of three-point goals by, not a freshman, but senior Baylee Justice. A basket by Tatum Arey put Peebles up 13-8 but back to back treys by Kennedy put the home team back in front and they led after one quarter 16-15.
After a Jacey Justice basket made it 18-17 Manchester early in the second, the Lady Hounds busted things open with a 10-0 run of their own, getting three-pointers from Kennedy and Sweeney to open up a double digit lead at 28-17. A McKinlee Ryan trey for Peebles stopped the run but on the strength of a three-point play by Cox and a late three-point goal by Darrington White, Manchester maintained a 10-point lead, 36-26, at the half.
The third quarter saw both teams play with little energy and the Lady Indians were able to mount a comeback, pulling to within one at 39-38 after another Ryan trey and a basket by Jerilin Toller, but the visitors were never able to grab the lead back. An acrobatic three-point play by White and a Cox basket put the home team back up six, but a Jacey Justice trey in the final minute of the third period kept the Lady Indians right in the thick of things, trailing just 46-43.
Sweeney began the final quarter with another “3”, followed by a nice baseline drive by Turner that pushed the Manchester advantage to eight points and they just continued to add to it from there. The third lady Hounds’ possession of the final period ended with Kennedy converting the old-fashioned three-point play and the Peebles girls were never able to recover, though they got a pair of threes from Ryan and Matti Nichols, sandwiched around Sweeney’s third trey of the game.
With 3:09 to play,a steal and score by freshman Lilly Gray drew the Lady Indians to within 59-51 but that was as close as they got, being shutout the rest of the game. Manchester scored the final seven points of the night, the last three coming on McKenzie Smith free throws and the celebration erupted for Coach Hoop and his 100th win and a crucial SHAC win for his Lady Hounds.
In one of their best “team” performances of the season, the Lady Hounds placed four players in double figures, led by 17 points from Sydnie Cox and 13 from Emily Sweeney. Brooke Kennedy added 12 and Darrington White 11, with McKenzie Smith just missing double figures as she scored 9. Manchester improved to 11-7 on the season, 7-6 in the SHAC.
“We’ve had a couple of bad shooting games, but we knew Sydnie could dominate inside if we could get her the ball and Emily got left open and capitalized with some big shots,” said Coach Hoop. “McKenzie Smith has really played well the last two games, she has varsity heart and ability, and she just has to play under control. If we stay the course, we might just make us a little tournament run.”
“We just really had no answer on defense for Cox all night,” said Peebles head coach Billie Jo Justice. “We didn’t shoot the ball well, some nights they fall, some nights they don’t.”
Event he greatest have off nights and that was the case for Peebles’ leading scorer on the year Jacey Justice as she was held to 11 points by the Manchester defense. Baylee Justice scored 10, McKinlee Ryan 9, and Jerilin Toller 8 for the Lady Indians. Peebles dropped to 12-6 on the season, 6-6 in the conference.
In the preceding JV contest, the Lady Indians remained undefeated at 12-0 on the season, defeating the JV Lady Hounds by a score of 50-23. Lilly Gray led Peebles with 15 points, with Hope Brown adding 10.
The Lady Hounds were scheduled to finish their conference slate on Thursday, Feb. 8 with a road trip to Whiteoak,a team they defeated 71-20 back on Dec. 11. Peebles finishes their SHAC schedule on Thursday also with a trip to Fayetteville, whom they defeated 46-33 just two weeks ago.
15 11 17 8 –51
16 20 10 20 –66
Peebles (51): J. Justice 4 2-2 11, Ryan 3 0-0 9, Reed 1 2-2 4, Nichols 1 0-0 3, Toller 4 0-0 8, B. Justice 3 1-2 10, Arey 1 2-2 4, Gray 1 0-0 2, Team 17 7-8 51.
Manchester (66): Turner 1 0-2 2, White 4 2-2 11, Cox 8 1-2 17, Smith 1 7-11 9, Kennedy 4 1-1 12, Sweeney 5 0-0 13, Hobbs 1 0-0 2, Team 24 11-18 66.
Peebles (7): J. Justice 1, Ryan 3, B. Justice 3
Manchester (7): White 1, Kennedy 3, Sweeney 3