Between fouls, missed shots and turnovers, it looked like it was going to be one of those days for Manchester Valley girls basketball. But after a slow start, the Mavericks came out in the second half a totally different team. Emma Penczek and Carmaya Bowman led the way in a big second half that propelled Manchester Valley to a 50-31 win Friday night.
From the opening tip, it was clear that the battle was not only going to be on the floor but on the sidelines, as Manchester Valley coach Heather DeWees and Liberty’s Barry Green each tried to implement the perfect game plan aimed at stopping each other’s strengths, while attacking weaknesses.
A tough first quarter for the Mavericks found DeWees and her girls in a battle early.
“We were getting trapped with the ball a lot,” she said. “It’s just strategies that Barry has in his toolbox that we had to adjust to, he’s a great coach.”
With her offense stagnant and some starters in foul trouble, Manchester Valley relied on Reese Kresslein to play extended minutes. While she didn’t fill up the stat sheet, Kresslein’s ability to dive for loose balls, play defense without fouling and even serve as an extra ball handler helped the Mavericks end the first quarter with a five-point lead.
“Reese is really headed back on the right track for us,” DeWees said. “We’re trying to get her more guard action and I think that’s better for her and better for us.”
The second quarter saw a Liberty team that as usual, refused to give up. Every player that dressed for the Lions saw the floor in the first half as the team’s hustle allowed them to dominate on the boards.
Second-chance opportunities lead to open shots for Dani Paulson, who got hot from 3-point range with six points in the quarter.
Liberty was able to twice get the lead down to one possession and despite being down four at the half, no one in the gym felt like this game was over.
Unfortunately for the Lions, Manchester Valley woke up.
“We definitely started passing the ball more and getting everyone to touch the ball. Our bench brought the energy and it came out on the floor as well.”— Manchester Valley's Emma Penczek
A once stagnant and frustrated offense began to flourish as Emma Penczek found open shots and kickstarted a high-scoring quarter for the Mavericks. Penczek, who finished with 18 points, noted the adjustments the Mavericks made as they extended the lead to double digits.
“We definitely started passing the ball more and getting everyone to touch the ball,” she said. “Our bench brought the energy and it came out on the floor as well.”
With Manchester Valley up 11 headed into the fourth quarter, it was time for Carmaya Bowman to take over. The senior continued her hot scoring streak as she once again finished with a game-high 22 points. Liberty had done a decent job defensively on the Shephard University commit, but Green knew the game problems she presents for those trying to guard her.
“You can not shut down a Carmaya Bowman” he said. “She is one of those great Carroll County products that’s good offensively and defensively.”
Behind Bowman and Penczek, Manchester Valley shook off the slow start and finished off Liberty, earning win No. 11 on the season in a battle DeWees knows far too well.
“Typical Liberty game, ”she said. “It’s always a very physical game, the gym is 100 degrees. Not much different than any other Liberty away game.”