Lady Mavericks complete best season in school historyBy CATHRYN CARTWRIGHT,
The Manchester Academy Lady Mavericks made history this year by earning a spot in the MAIS Overall State Basketball Tournament held at Mississippi College.
The Manchester girls defeated Marvell Academy in the first round of the tournament 61-29, but later fell to Leake Academy in the second round 76-44. "The girls played hard all week and as a coach that is all you can ask of them," said Lady Mavericks Coach Emily Poe. "I felt that the girls handled the arena and the atmosphere of the games well. Never being there before can be overwhelming on such a big stage, but they did what I already knew they could do. I could not be prouder of a group of girls who set a goal and achieved it." Poe said that the Manchester girls ended their season with a 25-10 record, which is the best record in quite some time.
Going forward, the Lady Mavericks will lose two of their senior starters, Gracie Jones and Mikayla Williams.
"Both girls will be hard to replace," Poe said. "They played a very important role in the success of the team this year. Gracie was that person that nobody saw coming and most nights they did not have an answer for. Her first step left and her ability to jump took teams by surprise. Mikayla took pressure off our point guard and stepped up in handling the ball. Her defense gave teams trouble and her sneak attack picked her up some solid steals."
For the year, Gracie averaged 11.60 points and six rebounds a game and Mikayla averaged three steals a game.
The Lady Mavericks were led on offense and defense this year by Lanie Potter, who averaged 16.74 points and four blocks a game. "Lanie was a force to be reckoned with and was a threat from the inside and out," Poe said.
She added that Ivy Sowell was also a "floor general"; as the team's point guard, averaging 7.40 points and 2.5 steals a game.
"Ivy was the leader on the floor that set everything in motion," Poe said.
Another warrior on defense and one of the starting five was Anna Kate Griffin who averaged 4.5 steals a game.
"Anna Kate made players mad each night with her constant in-your-face defense," Poe said. "She was like a gnat that would not go away."
Another player who was a starter at the beginning of the season, Hannah Clark Havens, was derailed by a knee injury this year, but Poe said she looks forward to having Havens on the hardwood again next year.
Other players who performed well for the team this year were Lizzy Carpenter and Madison Meeks.
"These players came in for big games and made big plays," Poe said. "Lizzy's three-point threat gave the Lady Mavericks that outside shooting that was needed. Madison stepped in and played big in the post area and gave us some toughness off the bench."
Poe made sure to mention other players on team whose work and dedication were an integral part of the team's success: Daylan Burrough, Olivia Fulton, Aubrey Anna Martin, Karley Martin, Gracie Rusche, and Makenzie Hancock.
"The team will certainly miss our seniors, but I look forward to the future with this young group of girls," said Poe. "Our goal for the year will remain to win a State Championship and return to Overall. I believe that these girls can do anything they set their minds to. I am very honored to be a part of history here at Manchester Academy and very blessed for the opportunity to coach these girls and build a basketball program that they can be proud of. I would also like to say a special thanks to all the fans, families, teachers and students that supported us on this amazing ride."