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Squire basketball building on momentum

PASS: Manchester’s Weston Hamby looks for a teammate to pass to during play at the Wabash County YMCA Summer League.

BY JACOB RUDE - sports@wabashplaindealer.com

The Manchester boys’ basketball team was minutes away from a sectional title last winter. While the Squires lost that night and saw a host of players graduate, they’ve built on that momentum gained last season throughout this summer.

“It’s been really good,” Manchester head coach Mark Underwood. “This is my fourth year (at the YMCA Summer League) and we made it all the way through without losing a game this year and that’s the first time that’s happened and that’s been a positive. But you know how the summer is and you have to be realistic about it. It’s not a time to try to get a great record as much as it is a time to try to improve and get better.”

On top of taking part, and going undefeated, in the Wabash County YMCA Summer League during the month of June, the Squires also competed in the Manchester University Summer League while attending shootouts at Indiana Wesleyan and Huntington University.

Like every team during the summer months, the Squires battled with the availability of its players throughout. When they did have them, like in the final week of Summer League play at the YMCA, Underwood was more than pleased with what his team was able to do on the court.

“Tonight is one of the few nights we’ve had everyone together,” Underwood said after the final week of the Summer League. “Tonight was kind of a fun night. We had our main eight guys with us. It was kind of fun to see how, when you’ve got everyone there, what it can look like.”

The leader of those top eight players is Weston Hamby. The junior-to-be led the team in scoring at 15.6 points while averaging 3.0 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game. He hit 38 percent of his three-pointers and 43 percent of his field goal attempts on the year. 

“Weston is the guy coming back that has the most experience,” Underwood said. “We really on him a lot but boy it takes more than one.”

Thane Creager is the next top returning scorer for Manchester after averaging 8.3 points and shot 36 percent from range. With the three other starters having graduated from last season’s team, though, the Squires will have many holes to fill. Underwood noted a handful of players who have stepped up in those roles as the team has moved forward during the summer, mentioning the likes of Kreeden Krull, Austin Underwood, Max Carter, Caleb Stout, Korbin Hensley and Carter Bedke.

“What I’ve been most proud of is not the record or anything like that but it’s been how the guys have improved,” Underwood said. “I’ve seen a lot of team chemistry developing that wasn’t there at the beginning of the summer that is definitely there now. Early on, we were having some bad habits as far as defensively giving up too many offensively rebounds, giving up too many straight-line drives, giving up too many transition baskets but we’ve tried to get rid of those bad habits and not let that become a habit here in the summer. I’ve been impressed with not only the play of the guys and the way they have listened and been coachable and tried to improve in a lot of those areas but also mainly in the chemistry and togetherness.

“When you see a team come together and really share the ball offensively and playing good team defense, that’s a fun thing as a coach to see.”