The Manchester Academy girls basketball team recently kicked off the season with an appearance at the Indianola Pre-Season Tournament.
The Lady Mavericks played three games in an effort to get them into shape before the start of the regular season next week.
Coach Emily Poe will return again this season after leading the Manchester girls all the way to winning 3rd in the state last year with a record of 25-10. The Lady Mavericks also made an appearance in the MAIS Overall State Tournament, where they fell in the second round.
Going into this year's pre-season tournament, Poe said that she wanted to use this time to test the girls' skills and see where they needed to improve before the regular season started.
"I felt like we would compete very well coming off of the success of last year," she said. "All in all I think we did our job and we got better as the week went on."
The Lady Mavericks played Bayou Academy on Oct. 28 in their first game of the tournament, but couldn't seem to get into sync before falling 52-28 to the Lady Colts.
"They came out with that up in your face defense, and it looked like we were in total shock all night," Poe said. "We just couldn't get in sync. I don't think we were ready for the tempo of the game yet."
Poe said that Game 1 seemed to be a wake-up call for the Manchester girls, who were able to use this experience to get back to the basics as they prepared for their next game.
On October 29, the Lady Mavericks faced off against Central Holmes in a short rematch. The Manchester girls had previously defeated these Lady Trojans earlier this spring which led them to participate in the Overall Tournament.
This time the Lady Mavericks were ready, and defeated Central Holmes once again with a score of 39-21.
"We settled down on the second night and really played well and handled their press," Poe said.
With a fresh win on their belts, the Manchester girls prepared for Game 3 on October 30 against Indianola, where they were victorious once again with a score of 46-35.
"We went on into the third night to continue to have some success with the things that we were doing," Poe said.
Some of the players that stood out in this pre-season tournament were Lanie Potter, who scored 16 points, 22 points, and 22 points in each of the games respectively, and Karley Martin, who stacked up double digit rebounds all three nights.
"Lizzy Carpenter stepped up as point guard one night when Ivy Sowell couldn't make it, and she filled that role well," Poe said. "Anna Kate Griffin always does her job of course defensively, and then in the last game, Hanna Clark Havens hit several shots that look promising for the year to come with shooting."
Poe said that following this tournament, the team will focus on conditioning to get the girls back into prime basketball shape.
She added that the expectations for this year are to win district and then aim for the state title. One change, however, is that Manchester Academy will play in the South this year, rather than the North, which Poe said could go either way.
"We have never played some of the teams that are in the South so we are kind of going in blind," she said. "It could be a good thing but it could also be a bad thing, so that will be an obstacle that we will have to overcome."
Luckily, the Lady Mavericks will retain most of its team from last year, including four starters, and Hanna Clark Havens will also return this year after missing last season due to an injury.
This year's varsity roster includes nine players, with an additional four players who will move up from the Junior Varsity to help fill in when needed.
"We really have high expectations for this team," Poe said. "We look forward to getting the year started and hopefully we will reach these goals. I think the sky is the limit for them."
The Lady Mavericks will host their first home game on November 12 against Madison-Ridgeland Academy, starting at 6 p.m.