Male opened up the 2018-19 season with a 64-58 win over long time rival Manual in a top 12 matchup on Friday night.
Although his team won, Male coach Champ Ligon focused on correcting mistakes. “We have a whole lot to work on”, he said, “just have to go back to the drawing board and keep working at things. To not shoot it well, to turn it over a lot, and not play what I thought was very good defense and come out with a win over a top-15 rival, (we’ve) got to look at that as a positive.”
Manual’s first points didn’t come until there was 3:53 left to play in the first quarter. Despite the scoring woes early on, Manual cut the lead to three and entered the half down 30-27.
The Crimson’s Nila Blackford gave the Male defense fits all night, especially in the second half. Blackford led all scorers with 27 points. “She probably has more high school varsity experience than anyone else in the state”, Ligon said, “she’s just a really good player all-around.”
Jeanay Riley had 12 points for Manual.
Turnovers proved to be a key factor in tonight’s game. The two teams combined for 34 turnovers; Male won the margin 21-13. “A lot of the turnovers were just it being the first game of the season, being over excited and nervous, and making poor decisions”, Ligon said, “as the season goes on, you work that out by players becoming more comfortable with their roles.”
Male was led in scoring by Cameron Browning. The Belmont signee finished the game with 21 points and 5 blocks. Joelle Johnson contributed 10 points. “They’ve both been playing varsity since their 8th grade year”, Ligon said, “that’s the kind of leadership and play you expect out of your seniors and I expect both of them to have monster senior seasons.”
Bulldog’s Alana Striverson added 16 points and led the team in three pointers made.
Manual (0-2) will return to action on December 4th as they host PRP. Male (1-0) will resume with their tough schedule on that day as they take on preseason ranked 16th ranked Campbell County at home.