Manual’s five senior basketball players were victorious in their last home game and so was their coach, Stacy Pendleton.
Kayla Styles scored 16 points, took off 14 rebounds (12 on the defensive board) and blocked six shots while her fellow senior Destony Curry contributed 15 points, five rebounds, nine assists and four steals as the Lady Crimsons (17-8) held on to beat Sacred Heart 69-60 Wednesday night.
“These seniors have won a boatload of games,” said Pendleton, who has announced he will step down as coach after this season. “I enjoyed the last game here and (afterward) I had a good cry with the team. Sacred Heart played with a lot of guts.”
Not only did Manual’s seniors — Styles, Curry, Morgan Allen, Katie Long and Alisha Davis — play on a state championship team last season, but they helped the Lady Crimsons win 111 games, three district titles, two regional crowns, two Louisville Invitational Tournament titles and a state tournament runner-up trophy in 2011.
Allen scored 11 points, hitting all four of her shots in the first half, including 3 three-pointers.
“Styles didn’t start off the game so well, but she finished well,” Pendleton said about his 6-foot-2 leader, who has signed with Xavier University. “Sometimes it’s hard to know what position we need her at. We need her inside to rebound and we need her (outside) to handle the ball.”
The Lady Crimsons, ranked No. 4 statewide in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings, needed Styles and Curry to knock down some free throws after No. 6 Sacred Heart (20-9) sliced a 20-point (51-31) deficit to 63-58 with 1:17 left in the game.
Gretchen Samsel scored a career-high 20 points for the Valkyries, hitting 7 of 9 shots, including 2 of 5 threes. DaiJia Ruffin tallied 19 points, making 8 of 19 shots. She also grabbed eight rebounds and handed out seven assists before fouling out with 1:11 remaining.
Styles sank 8 of 10 free throws and Curry 7 of 11 as Manual outscored Sacred Heart 21-11 at the line.
“Samsel really stepped up,” Sacred Heart coach Donna Moir said. “She has ice in her veins. On the fifth foul by Ruffin I thought she went straight up (while trying to block Curry’s layup). Manual’s depth on the bench hurt us. We go seven deep, but they can go nine or 10 deep.”
Manual plays at Sixth Region power Butler on Saturday night in its final tune-up before district tournament play begins next week.
“The Seventh Region is wide open,” Moir said. “Anybody could win it, but I still think the regional winner will have to go through Manual. They have a lot of girls who know how to win.”
Manual built a 38-27 halftime lead by hitting 5 of 10 threes. The Lady Crimsons went on a 13-2 spurt to hike their margin to 51-31. Krystalline McCune, a 6-4 freshman, ignited the rally with a basket, Styles scored six points, and Curry ended it on a three-point play. Sacred Heart followed with a 10-3 run to end the third period to climb within 54-41. Samsel and Ruffin each had two goals in that run.
Sacred Heart (20-9) – Samsel 20, Ruffin 19, Johnson 8, C. Long 9, Matula 2, Baisas 2.
Manual (17-8) – Styles 16, Curry 15, Allen 11, McCune 6, Hawkins 6, Prentice 5, K. Long 3, Paisley 5, Mitchell 2.
3-point goals – Samsel 2, Johnson; Allen 3, Hawkins 2, Paisley.