Girls basketball dribbles in with young team

Julianna Poe, Online Editor-in-Chief

With an underclassmen-heavy team outlook, the Manhattan High girls basketball team is “optimistic” about their upcoming season.

“We’re always optimistic,” head coach Scott Mall said. “We have some good girls coming back and it’s always a challenge but … we’re definitely looking forward to it.”

Last season, the girls walked away with an 11-9 record. Coming into the 2022 season, the team will lose three alumni: Taylor Claussen, Gillian Awbrey and Maddy Kuntz. Furthermore, Claussen and Awbrey were part of the 2021 Varsity starting lineup.

Over the summer, the girls participated in conditioning as a team. As tryouts inch nearer which are on Nov. 15, 16 and 17, last year’s Varsity starter Grace Dixon will fill the only senior position.

“I’m just going to have to … step out and … use my leadership skills,” Dixon said. “I think the juniors will really help with that too.”

Junior Destiny Yates, who was also a Varsity starter last season, hopes to become a role model for the underclassmen.

“I feel like [this season is] going to be a good opportunity for me to kind of show who I really am on the basketball court on and off,” Yates said. “[My goal is] to be the best player that I can be not only for myself, but for the team and set examples for the younger girls … and just be an all-around player.”

According to Mall, several “underclassmen have experience last year,” which will help the team develop a new starting lineup.

“It’s always an adjustment period. You’re losing good girls, especially good players, but also good leadership growth,” Mall said. “We had some really great girls from last year. We’re depending on the upperclassmen girls to step in and take over so that takes some adjustment, … but it’s always an adjustment because you find out what you’re missing when those girls are gone.”

Coming into the season, the team hopes to find their “groove” early on.

“[Last season] we excelled in getting our heads together,” Yates said. “Once we figure out [our] groove, … we work well together. We just got to find it this year. So I feel like we had some ups and downs but we found more ups than downs last year.”

At the end of the day, according to Dixon, the team’s number one goal is to make it past Sub-State. Last year at Sub-State, the team fell to Washburn Rural 50-36.

“I think our goal is to make it past … the first round of Sub-State and actually … play together as a team and just have a good season,” Dixon said.