UNIONTOWN — There was one guaranteed outcome that arose following Manchester Valley’s matchup on the road against Francis Scott Key on Friday night.
One boys basketball team would no longer be winless in Carroll County Athletic League play.
Despite a slow start, the Mavericks pulled away in the second half and defeated the Eagles 53-41.
Manchester Valley (1-5, 1-2 CCAL) trailed by four points after the first quarter, but patient offense and aggressive defense helped it turn the game around. In the second quarter Manchester Valley racked up 19 points and turned the ball over just two times as Dahon Saunders continued to score.
Saunders finished the game with a team-high 16 points, 11 of which came in the first half.
“It feels great, it’s a little new, but we should get used to it,” Saunders said about the Mavericks’ first win of the season. “It felt good to play well on offense, especially because we work on that stuff in practice and we can just come execute it in the game.”
Francis Scott Key (1-5, 0-3) scored 16 points in the opening quarter, but over the next two quarters, tallied only 14 total points. Turnovers mounted quickly and kept the Eagles from getting consistent rhythm and quality shot attempts on offense.
The Eagles have a young team this season, starting multiple freshman, and coach Ryan Kimble said that played a role in all of the turnovers Friday. FSK totaled 18 for the contest, and had at least four in every quarter.
“I would say growing pains is a great way to describe it,” Kimble said. “A lot of our damage is self-inflicted, no disrespect to Manchester Valley, they got their win tonight and they deserved it, but we’ve got to clean up the things we can focus on and we need to get better. I’m just looking for confidence, we have young kids that can score the basketball, but sometimes we just go too fast … the game started to speed up in the second quarter and that’s when we kind of went away.”
Noah Vipond paced the Eagles with a game-high 17 points and Liam McGrath added 11 as the other Key player to reach double figures.
Mavericks coach Bernie Koontz said his team played well in the second quarter and was patient on offense and moved the ball around effectively. Koontz noted his team can still improve on the defensive side, but despite some lapses played well overall in ending a five-game slide to start the year.
Manchester Valley took control of the game early in the second quarter and didn’t surrender the lead for the remainder of the contest. The Mavericks were patient on offense and moved the ball around to get open shots, without forcing many jump shots early in the shot clock.
Seven different Mavericks scored, with Jonathan MacGregor chipping in 14.
And on defense the Mavericks capitalized on the errant passes and turnovers from the Eagles, converting a number of fast break opportunities. But what was most impressive about Manchester Valley was its quickness and communication on defense.
FSK struggled to create quality shot attempts consistently due in large part to the Mavericks ability to keep it out of the lane regardless of the defensive scheme. Man Valley switched between man-to-man and zone defense throughout the game and it was effective for the final three quarters.
“We just got more energized and talked as a team,” Saunders said of MV’s attitude after the first quarter. “We’re trying to start ahead in the first quarter and not getting down early, we have to start stronger.”
Manchester Valley (53): Dahon Saunders 16, Jonathan MacGregor 14, Brett DeWees 7, Hunter Olshefski 5, Connor Rugguri 5, Dayne Koontz 3, Thomas Murray 3.
Francis Scott Key (41): Noah Vipond 17, Liam McGrath 11, Ryan Rill 9, Jake Wantz 2, Travis Williams 2.
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Halftime: MV, 31-22.