DALE – Dani Manning was only able to net four points after being in foul trouble throughout Monday night's 52-48 Senior Night win over Newcastle, but that was just enough to push the Lady Pirates' senior past the 1000 points mark on her high school career. With the victory, Manning became the second Dale girl to hit the accolade this season – the first being fellow senior Hannah Ash, who earned the achievement in December.
“That's a big honor and big accomplishment for Dani. She's a special player,” coach Josh Forsythe said.
The teams were evenly matched throughout the night, with Dale holding a slight advantage the majority of the game.
The Lady Pirates got out to a 9-2 lead in the first six minutes, capped on a bucket by Taylor Thompson on an assist by Manning, but The Lady Racers clawed back to tie up the game at 25 with 4:50 left in the first half. Dale bounced back with a 10-2 run to lead 35-27 at the break.
Newcastle returned reinvigorated, putting on a 10-0 show capped on a tre by Kindle Nelms to take the Lady Racers' first lead of the game with five minutes left in the third.
Ash scored a bucket and Forsythe played things safe with four minutes left in the quarter by running out most of the clock while starters Manning and Mikayla Rutland were benched from foul trouble and Claire Chastain was taking a rest after an injury. Forsythe called timeout with 15 seconds left, but neither team was able to capitalize on an opportunity to lead by the quarter's end.
“I was gonna go ahead and let that quarter be done and we were gonna start over again in the fourth quarter and see what we could do in the fourth quarter with a tie ballgame,” Forsythe said.
The fourth was a back-and-forth battle, but the Lady Pirates emerged victorious, due in no small part to free-throws by Thompson to close out the game. The girls were 11-13 from the charity stripe on the night.
Ash led the Lady Pirates with 21 points, Chastain dropped eight, Taylor Thompson seven and Rutland and Rylee Thompson each had five.
The town saw off Taylor Thompson, Ash and Manning in the final home game of their high school careers. It proved to be a memorable one.
“It was a really good Senior Night for us to have to pull this tough victory,” Forsythe said.
The Lady Pirates (23-2) will open their postseason Saturday in a district game at Hulbert. Tipoff is at 6:30.