Girls win, boys lose against Central in district championship


Hunter Hartlage

The Crimson basketball teams competed for the district championship against Central High School last night. Manual’s girls team won a decisive 65-31 victory against the Yellowjackets, while the boys team lost their game, 66-56.


Girls’ Basketball

The Lady Crimsons started out strong, with Aniah Griffin (#21, 12), Jaela Johnson (#3, 12) and especially Nila Blackford (#41, 11) blitzing the Central defense and earning multiple goals. Manual had 12 points on the board before the Yellowjackets had scored at all.

Manual cheerleaders cheering in the stands. Photo by Cicada Hoyt

Central began to pick up steam towards the end of the quarter. They began to play more defensively, in order to counter the Crimsons’ more aggressive style, and started to score points more frequently. The Lady Crimsons were not deterred, however, and in the last two minutes of the half, scored repeatedly, without allowing Central a single goal. At halftime, the score was 33-19, Manual.


“I felt like, in the first half, they (the Yellowjackets) had a lot of confidence,” said Jana Costner, the head coach for Central’s girls team. “But I don’t think it was there for the whole game, so it was a little disappointing.”

The Lady Crimsons came into the second half just as aggressively as they did the first, with Johnson and Blackford scoring a string of goals and putting a lot of pressure on the Yellowjackets.

In the third quarter, Central only earned four points. In the fourth quarter, the Crimsons had seemed to shut down the Yellowjackets, with Jenay Pennix (#33, 11) and Dejah Chatman (#24, 10) making multiple goals for Manual. Central began to make some baskets in the last few minutes of the game, but it ultimately would prove to not be enough. At the end of the game, The Lady Crimsons beat out the Yellowjackets 65-31, winning the title of district champions.

“I’m really happy,” said Manual’s Tyonne Howard (#12, 12). “Because it’s my senior year, and we’ve won district championship four years in a row, so it’s really exciting.”

Manual’s coach Jeff Sparks was also proud of the outcome of the game.  “I think we did a great job tonight of playing together, and I think we’re building a little bit of momentum going into next week’s regional tournament,” Sparks said.

Despite the setback, Costner is looking forward to next year, and the potential for her team to grow. “Our future is bright,” Costner said. “We have a lot of young players on our team, and the future looks bright.”

Boys’ Basketball

The boys game began as a close match, with the Crimsons and the Yellowjackets scoring multiple goals one after the other. Central’s defense was strong, though, and able to keep Manual from taking the lead. While Manual’s Kenyan Jacob (#3, 12) and Noah Hawkins (#32, 12) pushed hard to earn goals for the Crimsons, the Yellowjackets continued to outpace them. Central’s Jeremah Johnson (#4, 10) scored right as the buzzer sounded, making the halftime total 38-25 for the Yellowjackets.’

Kenyan Jacob (3,12) looking for a pass. Photo by Cicada Hoyt


“We made jump shots, and that was the difference in the ball game,” said Doug Bibby, Central’s head coach. “We hit shots, and they didn’t hit their shots. If they hit their shots they win, we don’t hit our shots we lose.”

At the beginning of the second half, the Crimsons found their second wind, matching every goal the Yellowjackets made with a goal of their own. Things really started looking of for Manual when Jordan McClendon (#21, 12) dunked the ball into the basket, making it a seven-point game. After that point, however, Central began to once again outpace the Crimsons when it came to scoring goals. Despite the Crimsons’ best efforts, the Yellowjackets walked away the victors, with a score of 66-56.

Jordan McClendon (21,12) taking the ball down court. Photo by Cicada Hoyt


“We prepared for them and everything, but we came up short,” said McClendon.  “We just gotta focus, to be honest. That’s the main thing we’ve got to do.”

“I feel like we underachieved tonight, we didn’t play up to our capabilities,” said Manual’s head coach, Jimmy Just. “We gotta work a lot harder on our defense and get stops.”


“I feel good whenever I beat a great coach like Jimmy Just, but it’s bittersweet,” said Bibby. “It’s bittersweet, because I’m the biggest Jimmy Just fan.”

Both the Crimsons Basketball teams’ will face off in the first round of the regional tournaments; the Lady Crimsons will host Assumption Monday at 7 p.m. and the Boys will travel to St. X Tuesday to play in their first round game against the Tigers at 7 p.m.