Manchester Academy ready for district tournament

By DILLON CADER,
Manchester Academy’s high school boys and girls will host the District 3 AAA basketball tournament February 9-11.  Both Maverick teams, although not earning the number 1 seed, will get to play the tournament on their home floor.
The boys come into the tournament with a 17-6 overall record and a conference record of 6-3. They are projected to play as the number 3 seed in the tournament after two close regular season losses to district opponent Central Hinds, who is projected to play as the number 2 seed.  
This season the Mavericks relied heavily on tough post play and timely outside shooting.  Matt Liddon leads the team with 14 points per game and always is a huge part of the offense.  
“Matt is vital, we look for him to do a lot, he’s our primary ball handler” says Head Coach John Harris.  “We pretty much go as he goes”.  
Hayes Bardwell has been another huge strength averaging 7 points from the center position and one of the team’s leading rebounders. 
“We really need Hayes to give us a strong inside presence, he is going to be a big factor for us in the postseason”  Harris said.
 Senior Mark Peaster lends consistency to the Mavericks in the post position as well. 
Jay Warren and Christopher Guthrie give the team a strong outside shooting game at the guard positions.  Guthrie is averaging close to two three pointers a game and leads the team in three pointers made this year.  
Senior Jay Warren averages 10 points per game providing more scoring opportunities for the Mavs. 
Coach Harris continues to depend on Jay for the more than scoring.  
“Jay has had a good year, good penetrator, great job on ball defense, very good defender, great ball IQ,” Harris said. “I’d like to see him try to help the team other than just shooting, but use his ball handling and court vision to set up easy looks for his teammates.”
As far as defense is concerned the Mavericks do a pretty good job, only giving up 39 points a game. 
“Defensively we are a zone team, playing 2-3 zone gives us the best chance,” Harris said.
Strategically, Coach Harris likes to slow down the tempo due to the fact that injuries have shortened the roster down to 7 players dressing out.  Coach Harris says “To win this thing, we can’t make mistakes, we have to shoot very well, there is very little margin for error during these postseason games”.  The Mavericks will try to try to knock off some tougher opponents using the advantage of their home floor.
The Lady Mavs come in with a 13-9 overall record but ride on a successful district record at 6-2.  They will be projected to get the number 2 seed after two single digit losses to Central Hinds. Head coach Emily Poe stresses the importance of being able to rely on the whole team, and not just one or two players to make plays.  Two of the Lady Mav’s biggest players have been Macy Huggins and Suzanne king both players average 10.5 points a game  “Suzanne’s post play and Macy’s quick guard play can set up other players to score” says Poe “Suzanne is going to need to get easy inside shots while Macy needs to make outside shots as well as driving into the paint.” 
Although playing only two quarters a game due to MAIS rules eighth grader Lanie Potter, although only plays 2 quarters a game due to MAIS rules regarding eighth graders, is always a big factor for the Mavericks.  She is averaging 7.2 points a game while only playing 2 quarters in those games. However she will be getting to play all 4 quarters in the post season. Coach Poe says “Lanie is going to be huge, she’s going to be able to play the whole game so she is going to play a big role in the tournament”.  
While only averaging just a little over 2 points a game, Libbi Kyle Ragland makes her presence known on the defensive end.  “Lib’s role his defending the guards, her and Hannah Trammel are our best on ball defenders, they have to play well for us to have a shot”.  
The lady Mavs get valuable minutes on the floor from everybody they can, making it difficult for other teams to focus on every player on the court. “We have to do the little things right in order to win this thing, also playing at home helps. Hopefully, we can get a spark from the students and parents in the stands,” says Poe.  
Mavericks and Lady Mavs have the capabilities of winning the MAIS District III AAA District tournament.  Both coaches are looking forward to having home floor advantage and a supportive fan base.  Tournament play begins February 9th, 2017 at Manchester Academy gymnasium.