February 28th, 2011

Assumption Goes Down Swinging To Manual

Chris Jung

Senior Writer

Assumption Goes Down Swinging To Manual
photo by Chris Jung

Rockets eliminated in regional tournament first round

When Assumption High School Head Coach Stephanie Greathouse returned to the Rockets sideline in mid-December and took over a 1-4 basketball team, it was made clear that Greathouse would simply serve in an interim capacity until the end of a season.

But following a 14-11 record the rest of the way, including a gutsy effort during an 85-59 loss to the state's No. 1-ranked DuPont Manual in the Class Act Seventh Region Tournament first round on Monday night, Greathouse says she thorougly enjoyed the opportunity.

“It’s been a great experience and I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” said Greathouse. “(The team) responded well to everything I tried to do. They really came together as a group, and I think we felt like a team. We had good relationships. It’s a wonderful group of girls and they have so much potential.”

So will Greathouse throw her hat in the ring to be considered as the coach for next year?

“It’s something I might consider,” said Greathouse. “I have to sit down and think about it.”

The Rockets did have its season ended with a regional tournament opening-round defeat against the Crimsons, but they hung tough with the super-athletic Manual team longer than outsiders thought they would, keeping things close with Seventh Region Player of the Year Mecheal Guess and Co. until after halftime.

But in the third quarter, Manual put together a 21-6 run to stretch its lead to 69-38 and used its balanced attack - offensively and defensively - to overwhelm an Assumption team that had few answers in the second half.

“I haven’t seen anyone that good from top-to-bottom,” said Greathouse. “Their top eight players are competitive at every position and they have the entire package. They have the inside and the outside.”

Guess led Manual with 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting and pulled down a team-high six rebounds. Named the Seventh Region POY earlier in the week, Guess used her length and her speed to score, but also to swipe three steals and begin a series of Manual fastbreaks that led to points. All-in-all, the Crimsons converted 25 Assumption turnovers into 32 points.

The Rockets were led by sophomore Katie Friedrich's 10-point, 13-rebound double and a team-high 14 points from junior Morgan Foley, including a 7-of-10 performance from the free throw line.

Assumption turned a lot of heads in the first quarter, as freshman Annie Crotty's runner at the buzzer cut Manual's lead to 17-12 following the opening period.

In the second quarter, sophomore Kelsey Kaiser's layup brough Assumption even closer at 17-14, but Guess struck quickly for four straight points, stole the ball from the Rockets' Brandy Hunter, and set up an April Wilson layup that abruptly increased Manual's lead back to nine points.

Hunter's 3-pointer with 1:45 to go before halftime got Assumption back within nine at 37-28, but a 7-2 run during that final stretch gave the Crimsons a 46-30 at the break.

Once Manual went on the aforementioned run to start the second half, Assumption never got witin 25 points of Manual the rest of the game. Out of the four, Seventh Region first-round games on Monday, Manual was the only district champion to advance to the tournament semifinals.

Despite such a wide, final margin, Assumption never stopped playing and fought to the very end.

“I told my team that we have a lot to be proud of,” said Greathouse. “I thought we did play with them. I would look up at the scoreboard and we’d be behind by more than I would expect. I think people watching here know we competed with them.”

Assumption's lone senior - Maggie Hartlage - had six points, five rebounds, and three steals in her final game as a Rocket. She fouled out of the game with 28.6 seconds remaining in the game and exited to a standing ovation from the Assumption crowd.

Regardless of Greathouse's future as coach of the team, Assumption will return an experienced team in 2011-12, including a crop of talented sophomores and juniors who took on leadership roles this season.

“I don’t think they can do anything but get better,” said Greathouse. “I think they’ve gotten a little taste of it now – a little taste of what playing at the top level is like. Hopefully they can mimic that and reproduce it on their own for next year. From this game, they were able to see how a top-notch team plays and how they want to be able to play.”

Manual will play Ballard in the Seventh Region Tournament semifinals on Thursday evening at Bellarmine University.

Assumption finishes the season with an even .500 record (15-15), despite losing five of its final eight games of the season.


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