Manchester girls basketball team exceeding expectations
NEW FRANKLIN — Coming into the season, Manchester High School girls basketball head coach Tucker Pappas said a successful year for his squad would be one in which the Lady Panthers won more than half of their games. Through Jan. 20, the team was out to a surprising 14-3 overall record, including a 9-1 mark in the PAC-7 League.
With the success, Pappas said the team’s goals “just keep getting higher.”
“At the beginning of the season, we were thinking we need to just get to the district semis to get some experience for next year,” he said. “Now, it’s to the point where we need to be in the district finals to see what happens. That’s definitely one of our goals.”
According to Pappas, the team has shown “a ton of improvement” this season.
“At the beginning of the year, we really struggled,” he said. “But ever since we beat Norton in overtime six games into the season, we’ve really gotten over the hump of how to play together as a team and learn how good we could be. I think the kids are feeding off of knowing how to win.”
This year’s team includes three girls who played significant minutes for the varsity team last year, and only one returning starter, Pappas said.
“We knew we were young coming in, but we also knew we had some good athletes and some good leadership,” he said. “Also, a few of the kids had some experience from last year. I thought that would carry over and it has.”
The team’s lone returning starter is junior guard Kayci Krzynowek.
“She does everything for us,” the coach said. “She’s a good defensive player and she’s a leader. She does absolutely everything with the ball in her hands. She’s one of the top two or three guards in the area, for sure, if not the best.”
Pappas said sophomore Alex Klein and junior Karley Dougherty, both of whom saw playing time last year, have had key roles in the team’s success this season.
“Alex is our leading scorer at 18 points per game, and she’s our best rebounder. She’s scoring even more than I expected. She’s someone we can count on to score,” the coach said. “And Karley is a scorer and probably our best defensive player. She does a lot for us.”
Another important player, Pappas said, is sophomore guard Emma Kreikbaum.
“I like her composure,” he stated. “I’m on her a lot, but she handles everything well. She takes everything in stride.”
Pappas said there were five games remaining in the regular season, including three league games, and he wants to see the team continue to build on its success so far.
“I want to see us getting better every game in preparation for the postseason,” he said. “We need to just keep building and doing the little things right.”
According to Pappas, success is in the team’s grasp this season, but he also added that Manchester is set up well for the future.
“Our best years are still to come,” he said. “The ceiling is really high for us. We can be so good next year.”
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