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Balance key as Man Valley outlasts Westminster in Carroll County girls basketball

Manchester Valley came into the season knowing it will take the whole team to replace reigning Times Player of the Year Amelia Saunders. Balanced scoring and defensive tenacity were on display during Friday’s game at Westminster.

Seven players recorded a bucket as the Mavericks built a six-point halftime lead and rolled to a 41-32 victory in their season opener.

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“We’re a really deep team this year,” sophomore guard Casey Meredith said. “It was a whole team effort. Everybody does their part. We are really close and we love seeing other people score and helping out our teammates.”

After a slow start to the game with the score tied after one quarter, Manchester Valley used a zone defense to seize control of the contest. Meredith and teammate Reese Kresslein (five rebounds) had several deflections that turned into easy scoring opportunities for the Mavs.

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“We have a lot of defenses that we play, it’s really about the matchups that we want,” MV coach Heather DeWees said. “It’s very catered to the teams we are playing.”

Junior guard Taylor Leaman knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter as the Mavericks stretched their lead to double digits. Leaman led all scorers with 10 points, while Meredith chipped in 8. DeWees said she was very impressed by the contributions from her freshmen, as Kresslein scored 6 and Autumn Stottlemire had 3.

Meredith added seven steals and five rebounds, while Leaman grabbed five rebounds.

“We have 12 people and I played all 12,” DeWees said. “I was really impressed with our freshman because they haven’t played varsity ball and they came out and played well. That’s all you can ask for.”

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Manchester Valley's Autumn Stottlemire splits Westminster defenders, Gillian Blubaugh (L) and Jillian Pumputis as she drives to the basket during the first half of Friday night's meeting between Manchester Valley and host, Westminster.
Manchester Valley's Autumn Stottlemire splits Westminster defenders, Gillian Blubaugh (L) and Jillian Pumputis as she drives to the basket during the first half of Friday night's meeting between Manchester Valley and host, Westminster. (Doug Kapustin/Carroll County Times)

For Meredith, the win was especially sweet after the heartache of having her freshman season end at the hands of the Owls. Westminster clipped Man Valley in overtime in last year’s Class 3A East postseason.

“It was good to get a win under our belt,” she said. “Especially because we lost to Westminster in the regionals. That was a tough end to last year.”

For Westminster (0-2, 0-2 Carroll County Athletic League), it has been a difficult start to the season on both ends of the court. The Owls had a difficult time finding open and passing lanes against an energetic Man Valley defense.

“We had no continuity,” coach Dave Urban said. “We are not executing on the defense side which is more disturbing to me than the offensive side.”

Sophomore guard Abby Kindle led the Owls with 10 points, while Taylor Spiegle had 3 points and eight rebounds. Coach Urban knows to get back on track Monday against Liberty, a state quarterfinalist from 2020, it starts on the defensive end.

“It’s all defense,” he said. “We may not see a ball at practice the rest of the year. It’s all defense.”

Man Valley (41): Morgan Kresslein 6, Autumn Stottlemire 3, Casey Meredith 8, Reese Kresslein 6, Kendall Reitz 4, Kyrsten Lucas 4, Taylor Leaman 10.

Westminster (32): Taylor Speigle 3, Emily Davis 4, Abby Kindle 10, Carlie Rosewag 3, Abbey Alleman 2, Kylie McWilliams 4, Jillian Pumputis 6.

Halftime: MV, 28-22.

JV result: Westminster, 37-28.

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