MANCHESTER, NH – Competing in a city clash that may not have occurred in other years, the Division I Trinity High School girls basketball team was able to earn a decisive victory against a Manchester West squad playing up a division thanks to a regional schedule intended to limit travel in due to COVID-19 concerns.
“It’s fun to play against (West),” said first-year Trinity head coach Natalie Wilson. “A lot of the girls know them. They’re friends and whatnot, so it’s cool to play against inter-city teams.”
The Pioneers were able to gain control early in Wednesday evening contest, carrying a 26-12 lead into halftime before withstanding an early-second half charge from the Blue Knights and cruising to a 51-32 triumph.
“They did everything they needed to do,” said West head coach Jerry Haynes. “They got the rebounds and they forced turnovers and they went to the rim a lot. ”
The win improved Trinity’s record to 3-4 while dropping West’s to 2-5.
Of course, between snowstorms, pandemic protocols and limited gym space, it’s been difficult to even get on the court for practice, much less play a game for many of Manchester’s high school basketball squads.
“We’ve only had maybe 10 full practices all year,” said Haynes. “We haven’t really been able to go over things as much as we’d like to, so we just have to learn to do the right things like boxing out and making crisper passes, and we’d like to hit some more shots, but the girls work really hard. They just need some more practice is all.”
Adding to the Blue Knights’ difficulties is the reality that, due to a variety of reasons, they lost a handful of their most influential players before the season even started. The lack of time together on the court, said Haynes, has made it difficult for his younger players to gain experience and chemistry.
Still, there have been some bright spots for West this season, including the play of the team’s lone senior, Abuk Teng, who led the Blue Knights with 11 points against Trinity, as well as sophomore up-and-comers Nyanakuak Piok and Aniyah Poulin, who each contributed six markers Wednesday.
Haynes said he expects his team to continue to improve and hopefully be playing sits best basketball come the postseason.
“I think we can play with most any of the D-II teams,” he said. “If it were a normal year, and we played all D-II teams, I’d like to think we’d be in the top-eight, honestly.”
For Trinity, the goal is similar in the state’s highest division.
“We have a lot of different styles of play and levels of play so we’re just trying to come together to keep it high tempo and to execute well,” said Wilson.
The Pioneers, she said, are paced by Colby Guinta, who led the team with 18 points against West.
“She’s one of my seniors and she’s been doing awesome,” said Wilson. “She’s a really coachable kid.”
In addition, Wilson said she’s seen significant improvements from the sophomore duo of point guard Devan Booth, who scored 13 points against West, and center Achol Tour, who contributed 10 markers in the game.
West is scheduled to get right back at it Thursday night, seeking its second win against Manchester Central in as many games when the cross-city rivals take the court at 6 p.m. The Blue Knights edged the Little Green on Feb. 5, 38-35.
Trinity gets a night off before hosting Manchester Memorial Friday evening at 6 in the first matchup of the season between the rivals.