Tonight the Manual basketball teams will face their biggest rival, Male High School, at home in a double header. The games tip off at 6 p.m with the girls’ game first, directly followed by the boys’ at 7:30 p.m. Before you head out to the games, get to know your Manual Crimsons basketball players for both teams.
Last season the Crimsons finished 10-20, their year ended after a loss to Christian Academy of Louisville (CAL) in the region semifinals. This season under coach Jimmy Just— who is entering his 11th season—the boys’ hope to win a region title. They bring back both Noah Hawkins (#32, 12) and Jordan McClendon (#21, 12), two of their starters from last year. The Crimsons have a deep bench and lots of young talent this year. It can be expected that McClendon, Hawkins and Kenyan Jacob (#3, 12) will be strong leaders for their team in both scoring, rebounding and energy.
“I think our teams biggest strength is our inside scoring. We have two of the best big guys in the region with Hawkins and Eli Roberts (#24, 10), and they will for sure pose some matchup problems for opponents,” Luke Carns (#23, 12) said.
The Crimsons are currently 1-0 on the season with a blowout victory over the Eastern Eagles this past Tuesday.
Last season the Lady Crimsons went 23-8, losing to Sacred Heart in the region finals. With the return of 10 players from last year, the team has a level of experience and bonding they lacked last season.
“Our biggest strength is not giving up. If we are down by 20 points we are not letting up. We will keep pushing ourselves no matter what,” Anna Littlefield (#25, 10) said.
This season the Lady Crimsons have a chance to penetrate deep into the playoffs and make a statement. Coach Jeff Sparks returns to the team for his fifth season and looks to guide his team to a successful year. Key players for the ladies this year will be: Jaela Johnson (#3, 12), Tyonne Howard (#12, 12) and Nila Blackford (#41, 11). Johnson and Howard have been a dynamic duo for the Lady Crimsons over the past three seasons.
“I plan to lead our team as one of the captains. I will help my team by pushing them to better themselves and me,” Howard said.
The Lady Crimsons are currently 0-1 on the season after a narrow loss to Eastern on Tuesday.