MANISTIQUE - The Manistique girls' jayvees showed plenty of spunk during their recent basketball season, finishing 8-12.
"We were pretty young for a jayvee team," said coach Bob Ryan, noting the Emeralds had seven freshmen on their team. "Many of the other teams had mostly sophomores, and I think their experience helped them. Eight of our losses were by eight points or less. I think we did very well.
"A good example is Gwinn and Negaunee tied for the (Mid-Peninsula) conference title. We had two relatively close games with Negaunee and split with Gwinn. We also lost by one and five points to Iron Mountain and by seven both times to Ishpeming. The girls were very competitive. They played with a lot of intensity."
The Emeralds dropped a 49-47 decision at Gwinn on Jan. 28 and beat the Modeltowners 37-31 at home Feb. 5.
"Our victory over Gwinn was certainly a highlight, knowing they were going for the conference title," said Ryan. "That was a nice win there, that's for sure."
Manistique was led by freshman point guard Allie Nagy, who averaged 12.3 points a game. Holly Blowers, a 5-foot-9 freshman center averaged 6.2 points and five rebounds, with freshman guard Sydney Chartier at 5.3 points.
"Allie did an outstanding job running our offense," said Ryan. "Holly really had a break-out year. She made some giant strides and was our most improved player. Sydney also had a good year."
Remaining starters were 5-7 freshman forward Michaela Hinkson and 5-6 sophomore forward Hailey Hoholik.
"We had a lot of balance," said Ryan. "The other girls chipped in wherever they could. We played 10 people a game, except when somebody was sick or injured."
Providing quality minutes off the bench were 5-8 sophomore center Sammie Williams, sophomore guard Olivia Holmberg, freshman guard Rachel Ryan, freshman center/forward Breianne Richey and classmate Maddie Russell, who played a variety of positions.
"They would all get their 4-5 points or rebounds each game," said Ryan. "We didn't really drop off much when we substituted."
Where did the Emeralds show the most improvement this season?
"I just think it's the experience they gained all year long," said Ryan. "For the freshmen, it's their first Mid-Peninsula Conference experience. Otherwise, they play in the CUP (Central U.P. Conference) at the younger level. It was mostly a matter of adjusting to the M-PC and playing against larger schools. The girls went out and played well. They made improvements across the board."