Game 6  JAN 15 SAT 6:45 pm   duPont Manual (KY) Lady Crimsons vs. Twinsburg Tigers

By Dave Mast
For years, what has been driving Dave Schlabach’s Hiland program is his ability to introduce the game to kids at a young age. duPont Manual head coach Stacy Pendleton uses that same approach, promoting the importance of getting the fundamentals down at an early age through his team’s summer clinic.

Coach Pendleton is entering his seventh year as head coach of the Lady Crimsons, having built one of the premier girls programs in the state of Kentucky. Pendleton’s team is coming off of a fine 24-6 effort last year. Throughout the past five seasons, Pendleton and his Lady Crimsons have fashioned a most-impressive 128-33 mark, and his career coaching record now stands at 240-98.

They will roll into Ohio and square off with one of the state’s upper echelon teams, the Twinsburg Tigers. Having played loads of
meaningful, high profile games, the Tigers are not foreign to pressure games like this. The only problem that they had last year was that they happen to be in the same Regional as State champion Canton McKinley.

“This is a strong, athletic team, and all of the pieces are there,” said Tom Jenkins. “To be a champion, sometimes you have to have your heart broken, and the Tigers hearts were busted to pieces last year by McKinley. I’m anticipating another great showdown in the Regional finals between these two great teams again this year, and only one of them will survive. Whoever it is, look for them to go all the way to the top.”

The key to Twinsburg’s success, as they try to replicate last year’s 23-2 mark, will lie mainly with superstar post prospect Malina Howard. Howard, a member of the U.S. U-18 Gold Medal team last summer, led that team in field goal percentage. The 6-foot-4-inch junior is as highly sought-after a player as there is in the state of Ohio. Coaches drool at her mobility in the post, which compliment her power game.

“She’s incredibly gifted,” said Jenkins.

They also have super-sophomore Ashley Morrissette, one of the top three sophomore prospects in the state according to OGBR.

Athletic junior LaShawna Gatewood, solid junior Leah Fechko, 6-foot-2-inch sophomore Char-dell Dunnigan coming off the bench, and lightening-quick senior point guard Katie Fox running the offense.

“I would expect that they will give duPont Manual everything they want and more,” said Jenkins. “I don’t think that Julie Solis’ crew is willing to back away from any challenge this season. They’ve tasted defeat after being so close last year. Now they are looking for the whole ball of wax.”