Ripley - Manchester Basketball

Manchester's Gage Lucas (front) battles for the ball with Ripley's Landon Rigdon (back) during the first quarter, Tuesday, in Ripley.

RIPLEY – The Ripley and Manchester programs are heading in opposite directions.

Manchester is in need of a new coach after Joey Darnell resigned on Monday, while the Blue Jays remained the only unbeaten team in Southern Hills Athletic play by beating the Greyhounds on Tuesday, 49-35.

“It feels good. We know that we’re off to a good start in league play, but we’ve got to come every single night. That’s kind of what they say about the SHAC. You never know who’s going to win on any given night,” said Ripley coach Rex Woodward. “We have an X on our back kind of and a lot of teams think we can win a lot of league games. We’ve just got to come out and compete. We do that for the most part. We’ve just got to make it a little more consistent.”

Darnell’s resignation, originally reported by The People’s Defender, was confirmed by Brian Rau, superintendent of Manchester Local School District, on Tuesday before the game. Assistant and junior varsity coach McKenzie Smith also resigned.

“The gist of it is both the varsity coach and the JV coach resigned yesterday. We never asked them to resign. I had a discussion with the coach yesterday and after the meeting he ended up resigning. When he resigned it was kind of like the assistant coach followed suit,” said Rau. “Basically that’s what we have. We just have two coaches that resigned.”

The report from The People’s Defender mentioned the possibility of a seven-game suspension for Darnell. Rau said there was a possibility of a suspension, but would not comment on the reason for suspension.

“The only thing I can say is because he resigned when he did, that’s almost a moot point just because when his resignation took effect, it basically negated anything else,” said Rau.

Rau says he is hoping to have another coach in place as early as Wednesday, but on Tuesday junior high girls’ basketball coach Blake Blevins was acting head coach for the Greyhounds, and Ripley was able to take advantage early in the contest.

After a Jacob Calvert bucket gave Manchester an early 2-0 lead, the Blue Jays were able to close the quarter on an 11-2 run with points from five different players.

“I think, luckily, we were hitting shots. I think our guys were kind of stepping into comfortable shots and they hit some of them and that kind of sparked our defense tonight. Obviously when the shots are falling, you’re going to play a little harder on the defensive end,” said Woodward.

Ripley added to the lead in the second quarter by outscoring the Greyhounds, 11-7, to take a 24-11 lead into halftime with eight different players in the scoring column.

Both teams struggled to score after the break, notching only a combined 11 points in the third quarter as the Blue Jays took a comfortable 30-16 lead into the final eight minutes.

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“We just got stagnant a few times,” said Woodward. “We were starting our offense way too far away from the basket. There were times when we were four and five feet outside the 3-point line trying to start our offense.”

Manchester’s offense picked up in the fourth quarter, which started with a Tanner Utterback 3-pointer, but Ripley’s variety of offensive weapons proved too much as they held on for the 14-point victory.

Ripley was led by Landon Rigdon’s nine points, while Brian Dunn, Peyton Fyffe and Ryan Harney each had seven. The Blue Jays finished with 10 players scoring in the contest.

“It makes it hard for someone to kind of key in on one person. You don’t know who it’s going to be. I looked at the scoring tonight and again it’s single digits. You’ve got nine and a handful of people had seven. I don’t mind that,” said Woodward. “It would be nice having someone who could go get that, and I think we could if we weren’t as deep as we are – if we were playing seven guys on a given night, or six, but we’re playing – I know tonight we played I think 12. We won’t do that every night, but I don’t mind that at all.”

The win moves Ripley to 4-1 overall and 4-0 in SHAC play. The Blue Jays travel to Bracken County on Friday for a 7:30 p.m. game.

Utterback led Manchester with 12 points, while Shaun Gould added eight points and 14 rebounds. The Greyhounds fall to 2-5 overall and 1-4 in conference play with the loss.

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