Krys McCune knows some may doubt her and her Manual girls’ basketball teammates.
But with the game on the line Friday, she worked to erase any doubt — and Sacred Heart’s lead — as she powered the host Crimsons to a 56-52 victory. The 6-foot-3 junior center scored 21 points on 9-of-10 shooting and pulled down 12 rebounds.
“We knew she was going to get what she got,” Sacred Heart coach Donna Moir said of McCune.” She’s a good player. She always comes to play against us. I don’t know if she plays like that against anybody else.”
What she also didn’t know was the way McCune plays away from the basket. With the game tied at 49 with less than 1:30 left, McCune took the ball at the top of the key, drove in for the layup and got the Valkyries’ Ashley Johnson to foul out. McCune made the free throw and gave the Crimsons (12-4) the lead for good.
Moir said she’d never seen that from her, calling it “a big time move.” But the junior said it has always been a part of her repertoire.
“I like getting the ball up there and driving,” said McCune, who also scored the layup with 1:53 left in the game that tied the game at 49. “I’ve done it before. Probably not as much as I should be this year.”
In making the comeback, the Crimsons fought to erase the narrative that has plagued them early in the season: their inability to pull out close games. Three of their losses have been by three points or less.
“You know we’ve had some games this year, an overtime game (at Butler) already where we lost” by one, Manual coach Jeff Sparks said. “Another championship game in a tournament (against Henderson County) where we lost by two.”
The Crimsons started the season ranked No. 6 in The Courier-Journal’s preseason coaches’ poll, but after two straight losses — including a 60-57 one Tuesday at Central — Manual found itself ranked No. 20 in the season’s first Litkenhous Ratings.
“The Central game was motivation for me (to come out) and just prove people wrong,” McCune said.
And while they lead for most of the game Friday, the Valkyries (7-5) stayed in the game using their quickness to counter Manual’s size advantage. It nearly worked as Manual committed 19 turnovers.
And when McCune committed her fourth foul with 5:48 remaining, it gave the Valkyries the opening they needed. Meghan Colley hit two free throws to tie the game at 40, then a minute later, she hit a 3 from the corner to give Sacred Heart a 43-41 advantage, it’s first since 2-0.
“We had them where we wanted, had them on their heels a little bit,” Moir said.
McCune would sit until the 2:31 mark, when the Valkyries led 49-47. She and Teanna Curry, who finished with 13 points, scored the final nine points for the Crimsons.
“This was a huge step forward,” Sparks said. “We really needed this for some confidence and to show that we’re on the right track.”
Freshman Kia Sivils led Sacred Heart with 14 points, a personal best. Johnson added 12, but was 0 of 6 from the field in the second half, when she only scored two points. Colley added 13.
Moir understands what Manual went through, saying her young team is in a similar position in needing to taste a victory.
“We got to learn how to win,” she said. “That’s our big thing. We got to learn how to win.”
Sacred Heart (7-5) – Johnson 12, Meg. Colley 13, K. Samsel 3, G. Samsel 1, Sivils 14, Berger 9.
Manual (12-4) – Te. Curry 13, Ballard 3, MacBlaine 3, To. Curry 5, Prentice 9, Schaaf 2, McCune 21.
3-point goals – Meg. Colley 3, K. Samsel, Sivils 2, Ballard, Prentice.