MANNING -- Laurence Manning Academy's varsity girls basketball team fell to Pinewood Prep 27-21 on Monday, dropping their record to 5-5 on the season. However, those five wins already match LMA's' win total from last year.
The Lady Swampcats …
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The Lady Swampcats finished 5-11 overall and 0-7 in region play last year, failing to make the SCISA 3A playoffs.
Veteran coach Betsy Reynolds was brought in over the offseason, marking the team's fourth coach in five years.
Reynolds is a Wilson Hall graduate and has coached at several stops in both South Carolina and North Carolina. She brings with her a wealth of experience that she hopes will help take the program to a new level.
"We're just trying to rebuild this program, and we're trying to do it from the ground up -- from the B team up," said Reynolds. "I have a great bunch of great girls on the varsity level. Of course, I'm new to them and they're new to me, so we're still trying to get to know each other pretty well. I love their heart, their effort is just amazing; you can't ask for more than that, and that's going to carry us a long way."
The loss to the Lady Panthers stung, however, considering LMA had already beaten Pinewood Prep 37-27 on Dec. 10.
"We played hard," said Reynolds. "We played them very similarly to how we played at their place when we were able to win, but I think the difference is that we shot such a poor percentage. We didn't make our free throws like we did in that game. I think we played tough defense just like we did at their place, and we rebounded fairly well. It was just the shot selection and the fact that we didn't do well at the free throw line."
It also didn't help that LMA was without sophomore guard Audrey Bennett. Bennett suffered a concussion against Spartanburg Christian on Saturday and will likely miss the next couple of games. Bennett's absence caused the Lady Swampcats to switch up their rotation and to call up a player from the junior varsity squad to fill out their bench.
"We're kinda low in numbers right now," said Reynolds. "That will improve over time I'm sure."
The Lady Swampcats are led by seniors Katherine Burns and Breanna Boykin. Burns is known as "Ice" by the team because her unshakable demeanor projects that she has ice water in her veins in tense situations.
"She's done well for us," said Reynolds. "This is her fourth year on varsity, so she has experience that some of the other girls don't have. She's a good girl and she's someone that everybody wants to follow."
The big task for Burns and Boykin is simply getting accustomed to a new coach and new system yet again.
"I've coached at lots of different places and have developed my own system over time," said Reynolds. "I want them to learn the system and to learn to play together and have some success -- especially for these seniors going out in their last year. I want them to experience some success, and I want basketball to be something that people want to play at LMA. I want it to be something we're proud of. It has taken a while for them to learn the system, but they're eager to learn and I think we'll continue to improve. "
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