Ashley Franklin promised “a little extra fire and little bit more loudness” when she was named Manual High School’s girls basketball coach in April. She didn’t disappoint Tuesday night.
In her first game as head coach on the court where she played two decades ago, Franklin was a boisterous leader as her Crimsons routed Mercy 55-37 in a battle of top-10 teams in The Courier Journal’s preseason poll of coaches.
“This is a dream come true,” Franklin said. “I couldn’t have asked for anything more. I’m excited to have this job. I’m blessed to have this job. I’m blessed to have my coaches and my girls believing in me. That’s the difference. They believe in me and trust in what we’re doing.”
Senior JaKayla Thompson, a University at Buffalo signee, scored 20 points to lead the No. 8-ranked Crimsons (2-1). Senior Sydne Tolbert added 10 points, five rebounds and three assists.
No. 3 Mercy (3-1) was playing without sophomore star Leah Macy, who was out with an illness. Mary Smith scored 19 points to lead the Jaguars, who shot just 22.5%.
Here are three observations from the game:
Franklin making a difference
Franklin was hired to replace Jeff Sparks, who stepped down after winning 183 games and two Seventh Region championships in nine seasons.
Franklin, the former Ashley Butler, coached eight seasons at Central (2008-16), moved to Arkansas and then returned to Louisville last season as an assistant coach at Butler.
Thompson said Franklin is a constant source of energy.
“She’s fancy with all her moves and stuff,” Thompson said. “She makes our team better.”
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Manual opened its season Friday at two-time defending state champion and No. 1-ranked Sacred Heart, falling 68-58. The Crimsons led 51-46 after three quarters but were outscored 22-7 in the fourth.
Franklin said her team learned lessons about clock management and poise in that loss.
“Sacred Heart’s used to being in positions like that; we’re not used to being up five on Sacred Heart,” Franklin said. “To them, they kind of panicked a little bit. They have to know that they deserved to be up five. We’re going to work on that so that next time we’ll take care of business.”
Thompson shows versatility
Thompson is listed as a 5-foot-8 guard but showed her versatility Tuesday, scoring several baskets in the paint after posting up taller defenders.
Thompson finished 7 of 14 from the field and 6 of 7 from the free-throw line. Thompson joins 5-8 sophomore Morgan White as the tallest starters in Manual’s starting lineup.
“We’re just adjusting to how our team looks right now,” Thompson said. “I’m the bigger guard, so I’m playing whatever position I need to for our team to win. I think it’s fun posting up girls, making them feel small.”
Mercy coach Nick Cann was impressed with Thompson.
“She’s real shifty in there,” he said. “She’s a guard who can play all over the floor. Give her credit, for sure. She’s doing a lot of different things for them.”
Macy's absence big for Mercy
The 6-2 Macy is averaging 20.3 points and 20.3 rebounds after three games, and her absence was felt on both ends of the court Tuesday.
“She affects all areas of the game,” Cann said. “It’s obvious we miss her on the boards, but it’s about just putting everyone in their normal spots. We had a lot of people we shifted over one spot and just weren’t real comfortable in the roles they were in. We made basketball difficult tonight, and it didn’t have to be that way. It was a tough night.”
Manual used an 11-2 run to take a 30-17 halftime lead and cruised in the second half.
The Jaguars made just 2 of 13 shots in the second half.
“I’ve got to help them and get them in better spots,” Cann said. “I felt like I didn’t help them a whole lot tonight. It was just one of those nights.”
MERCY 9 8 9 11 - 37
MANUAL 11 19 12 13 - 55
Mercy (3-1) – Mary Smith 19, Alyssa Murphy 6, Emma Barnett 12.
Manual (2-1) – JaKayla Thompson 20, Sydne Tolbert 10, London Sweeney 6, Morgan White 5, Ashlinn James 6, Jazmine Chatman 4, Madison Brittle 4.
Jason Frakes: 502-582-4046; email@example.com; Twitter: @kyhighs.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: No. 8 Manual girls basketball rolls past No. 3 Mercy, missing its star