The Laurence Manning Academy varsity girls basketball team is off to a 4-4 start, and that makes first year head coach Gary Bennett happy.
"I think we're doing a little bit better than people expected," Bennett said. "Considering that we've won …
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"I think we're doing a little bit better than people expected," Bennett said. "Considering that we've won just eight games in the last two years, and we're already halfway to that is a good thing."
That doesn't mean Bennett is satisfied though. He is looking for his team to get better as the season progresses.
"These girls are learning to play hard," Bennett said. "Right now they're just learning to play basketball."
Two of those girls are Bennett's daughters, senior Brooke and freshman Lexi. They are both starters and are the Lady Swampcats' top two scorers.
The other three starers are seniors in Abbie Patrick, Olivia Coker and Sarah Frasier. Seeing time off of the bench are Katherine Burns, Mason Ham and Macie Wilson. Sarah Knight Nalley was starting but has been sidelined with a concussion for the last 10 days.
LMA is a perimeter-oriented team on offense. Therefore, the Lady Swampcats try to get out on the fast break as much as possible.
"We try to get out and run with it as often as we possibly can," Coach Bennett said. "We are a little inexperienced in the post, so we try to get into our transition game as much as possible.
"We're pretty good from the outside as well. Coker and Lexi Bennett can stroke the 3(-point shot) pretty good."
Defensively, Laurence Manning is generally running a variety of zone defenses. However, Coach Bennett isn't afraid to alter things because of Coker's defensive presence.
"If we get someone on the other team with a hot hand, we're not afraid to go to a box-and-one and let Olivia play that person man-to-man. She is our best defensive player."
Since the Lady Swampcats are lacking some depth, Coach Bennett has done his best to make sure his players are physically ready for what the opposing teams will try to do.
"We need to really be in shape because teams will try to take advantage of that," he said. "They will try to run a lot."
Coach Bennett said a preseason goal was to get to 10 victories, and with the heavy part of the schedule facing LMA after the first of the year, that could be a chore. Again though, he and his team are not allowing that to be their ultimate goal.
"I really want them to learn the game of basketball," he said. "We want them to work hard and get better."
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