Manchester girls basketball team ready for next step
NEW FRANKLIN — Manchester High School girls basketball head coach Tucker Pappas said experience is the No. 1 strength for this year’s team.
“These kids have all been here and done it,” he said. “They know what it takes and they know the way we play. Everything is very smooth right now because it’s not a whole lot of teaching. It’s more about refreshing and getting them back in shape.”
Pappas said the team is in a much different place to start this year than it was at the same time last season.
“Last year, we had a relatively young team, with no seniors,” he said. “We started off the year 2-2. We played well after the first five or six games — once we started figuring things out. They really came through and had a nice year.”
Manchester finished 22-4 overall and 13-1 in PAC-7 and made it to the district finals.
“We lost that game, but we had a lot of injuries heading into the tournament,” Pappas said. “That was a big factor for us, and we’re pretty excited this year with everybody back.”
The coach said this year’s squad features a “nice little blend” of experience, including a pair of seniors, three juniors, a sophomore and a freshman.
Manchester’s seniors, Kayci Krzynowek and Karley Dougherty, are both starting guards.
“Kayci is our leader. She’s a four-year starter and she makes us go. She’s the key to our team. She can score, rebound, play defense — she does a little bit of everything for us,” the coach said. “Karley is a three-year starter and a four-year letterman. She’s a good scorer, a good defender and a good ball-handler. She’s going to be counted on to do a lot more scoring this year. Last year, she had a bad back and really didn’t practice for two months, so it’s nice having her back full strength.”
Pappas said having his starting backcourt comprised of two seniors “is going to be huge” for the team this season.
“We’re not going to be worried about bringing the ball, even against the better teams that do press a lot,” he said. “Having that confidence in them, we can do a lot more things underneath the basket and away from the basket, where we can just let them go work.”
According to Pappas, the tallest starter for Manchester this season is Alex Klein (5-foot-9), who averaged 16 points per game last year as a sophomore.
“She’s a good scorer and rebounder, and she’s really picking it up on her ball-handling,” the coach said. “She’s going to be a key contributor for us.”
The team’s other starters to begin the season are juniors Brittni Porter and Emma Kreakbaum.
“Brittni is a great rebounder and a great jumper. She’s great athletically and she’s going to be expected to score more for us this year. Her role will increase,” Pappas said. “Emma is a two-year starter. She can shoot the ball and she handles it well. She does a lot of the little things that go unnoticed.”
The first players off the bench for Manchester are sophomore Grier Cowles and junior Allie Richmond.
“Grier’s a scorer, a good defender and the fastest kid on the team. She’ll just bring another dynamic scorer as a guard off the bench for us,” the coach said. “Allie is 5-foot-10. She’ll give us more scoring and more rebounding. She’s a little taller, so she’ll come in and cause some problems for teams defensively.”
In addition, Pappas said, freshman Sam VanScoy is slated to play a key role for the team.
“She’s going to come in and give us some good minutes at the forward and the guard positions,” he said. “She can do both and she’s a nice scorer.”
Early in the season, Pappas said, the team will put the heaviest focus on improving on the defensive side of the ball.
“We’re going to concentrate on holding teams down, because we know we can score,” he explained. “We just need to learn to work hard on every possession and not take possessions off.”
Manchester’s season will tip off tomorrow, Nov. 23, at 12:30 p.m. at home against Wadsworth High School, and Pappas said that game will be an early measuring stick for his team.
“In that game, we’re looking for improvement,” he said. “Last year, they beat us pretty good, and that really got us going. We made a lot of changes after that game. This year, we want to compete and still be in that game in the fourth quarter. They are one of the best programs in the state in Division I, and I want to see how we are athletically and whether we can compete at that level. It’s a good test for our kids to see where we are at.”
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