Senior Ellie Snep of Whitko moves to the basket as Kennidy Lauer of Manchester defends during the first quarter. Photo by Gary Nieter, Times-Union
Senior Ellie Snep of Whitko moves to the basket as Kennidy Lauer of Manchester defends during the first quarter. Photo by Gary Nieter, Times-Union
NORTH MANCHESTER – When it mattered Friday, Kennedy Fierstos came through.

The Manchester girls basketball team defeated Whitko 40-29 for a  Three?Rivers Conference home win.

The score was 25-19 at the end of the third quarter, and Manchester  (6-4, 3-0 TRC) needed a spark to pull away.

Fierstos provided that spark. She opened the fourth quarter with a three-pointer that turned the Lady Squires’ six-point advantage into a nine-point lead.

“Fierstos coming out and hitting that three kind of jump-started us a little bit, but it also gave us that breathing room we needed to play a little bit better in that fourth quarter,’” said Manchester coach Jake Everett.

With more distance between themselves and Whitko, the Lady Squires continued to grow their lead.

Kiera Hatfield’s three-point play stretched Manchester’s lead to 12, and Eva Bazzoni’s free throw made it a 13-point gap.

After a Whitko bucket, Fierstos hit another trey, and the Lady Wildcats (3-8, 1-2 TRC) never threatened after that.

“We’ve got some experience, and I rely on that experience and those girls to know in that situation what we need to do to pull ourselves together and get the job done,” Everett said.

Whitko coach?Rick Bragg commended Manchester.

“They’re a really good team,” he said. “We’re an emerging team, and once we get over that hump then we’ll be in that position where we’ll make that three-point shot, or we won’t turn it over when we need that basket, or we’ll step up to the free throw line and make that free throw.”

Bazzoni scored a game-high 18 points, while Fierstos added 11.

Fierstos tied the Lady Squires’ program record of 92 three-pointers.

She shares the honor with Megan Eckert, who played for the Lady Squires from 1995-99.

Emalee Duggins led Whitko with 11 points.

Neither team shot well to begin the game. Manchester’s defense was stalwart and caused several turnovers early.

“When the girls really lock in on defense, we don’t have to rely as much on our scoring,” Everett said.

Meanwhile, Whitko struggled to get many shots off.

“We did not handle their 1-3-1 defense really well,” Bragg said. “We have to understand we’re not gonna see a lot of man-to-man defenses.”

Manchester carried a 10-3 lead into the second quarter, which again found few shots falling through the net.

The Lady Squires led 16-9 at halftime, before Whitko limited its mistakes to cut the lead to six by the end of the third quarter.

Whitko will play Tuesday at West Noble.

Fierstos will have the chance to set the Manchester three-point record Tuesday at Fort?Wayne Luers.


W    3    6    10    10    –    29

M    10    6    9    15    –    40

Whitko – Emalee Duggins 4-8 3-5 11, Ellie Snep 2-9 1-2 5, Elizabeth Miller 0-0 0-0 0, Guinny Garr 0-0 0-0 0, Sarah Hewitt 3-6 0-0 7, Kayla Schipper 1-4 1-2 4, Gus Garr 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 11-31 5-9 29.

Manchester – Jirni Cripe 0-3 0-0 0, Kennedy Fierstos 4-10 0-2 11, Kiera Hatfield 1-8 2-4 5, Mackenzie Day 0-2 0-1 0, Eva Bazzoni 7-14 3-7 18, Bailey Mooney 1-2 0-0 3, Kennidy Lauer 3-3 0-0 6. Totals 16-41 5-14 40.

Three-pointers – Whitko 2 (Hewitt 2), Manchester 6 (Fierstos 3, Hatfield 1, Bazzoni 1, Mooney 1); Rebounding – Whitko 18 (Snep 9), Manchester  24 (Lauer 5, Bazzoni 5);  Turnovers – Whitko 13, Manchester 9; Fouls – Whitko 15, Manchester 16; Fouled out – Duggins; Records: Manchester 6-4, 3-0 TRC; Whitko 3-8, 1-2 TRC.