MAN — With a veteran group of players coming back this season the Man High School girls’ basketball team has optimism heading into the 2012-13 roundball season.
Man is led by head coach Tonia Ward, who enters her 12th season at the helm.
Back for the Lady Billies are senior co-captains Summer Sword and Taylor Whited.
Sword, who has already signed on to play collegiate softball at West Virginia State next year, is a very well-rounded athlete and also plays volleyball at Man. She needs just 66 points to go over the 1,000-point mark for her career to join Karen Browning, Amy Mitchell-Keffer, Malorie Keffer, Sarah Caserta and Tabby Johnston on the Lady Billies’ elite all-time scoring list.
Whited is a very good basketball player as well but was hampered last year with a leg injury and missed a lot of playing time.
“Hopefully, she will be back at full strength for her senior year,” Ward said. “Whited is a force both offensively and defensively on the hardwood.”
Also returning to her starting point guard post is junior Morgan Conn.
“Conn is a hustler and great ball handler and will quarterback the Lady Billlies this season,” Ward said. “She also has a good shot and will take the ball to the basket when need be.”
Another returning starter for Man is Madison Keffer. The junior, however, is currently sidelined from a summer ACL injury which occurred in a softball game. The Lady Billies hope to get Keffer back in late December or early January. Keffer, a forward, is a good scorer. She is the daughter of Todd Keffer, a 1,000-point scorer at Man High School.
Sophomore Mika McCoy, a forward, will also be counted on highly this season for Man.
“She is a rough and tough girl under the board and will battle to the end for a rebound,” Coach Ward said. “She also has a nice shot.”
Junior Jennifer Shull is also pressing for playing time at the other guard position along with Conn. Shull also is a good shooter and ball handler.
Senior Kassandra Brown, one of team’s best rebounders, is expected to come off the bench and get some playing time at either center or forward as she is the tallest player on the team.
Junior reserve Tessa Mullins will also be vying for some playing time at forward. Ward described her as a good rebounder.
The Lady Billies have five freshmen who came over from the Man Middle School squad —Hannah Harvey, Summer Combs, Kelsey Porter, Tiffany Belcher and first-year player Misty Dempsey.
Man has a very tough schedule this season.
The Lady Billies opened up with a 61-40 loss on Tuesday afternoon at home against Class AAA county rival Logan. Man plays the Lady Cats a second time on Jan. 21 at Logan in another 1 p.m. tipoff.
Also on Man’s schedule is a home-and-home series against defending Class AA state champion Westside, as well as Class AAA Ripley. Man is scheduled to host the Ripley Vikings, a new opponent, on Dec. 4 at 7:30 p.m.
Man also takes on Wahama, Class A power Charleston Catholic, Mount View, Tug Valley, Greater Beckley Christian, Cross Lanes Christian and Sherman.
“We open up with Logan and they are always tough,” Ward said. “They have got good shooters and have a good inside and outside game. If we stay healthy and play team ball I believe we will have a good year.”
Ward is assisted by Julia Fleming.
Man Lady Billies
2012-13 Girls’ Basketball Schedule
Nov. 27: Logan, L 40-61
Dec. 4: Ripley, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 11: Cross Lanes Christian, 6 p.m.
Dec. 13: at Greater Beckley Christian, 7 p.m.
Dec. 17: at Westside, 7 p.m.
Dec. 18: Wahama, 7 p.m.
Jan. 5: at Sherman, 6:30 p.m.
Jan. 8: at Cross Lanes Christian, 6 p.m.
Jan. 16: at Wahama, 7 p.m.
Jan. 17: Sherman, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 18: at Mount View, 7 p.m.
Jan. 21: at Logan, 1 p.m.
Jan. 23: Charleston Catholic, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 24: Tug Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 28: Greater Beckley Christian, 7 p.m.
Feb. 4: at Tug Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 5: Mount View, 7 p.m.
Feb. 6: Westside, 7 p.m.
Feb. 12: at Charleston Catholic, 7:30 p.m.