BY Katie Howerter & Dan Gardella
Staff Reporter & Sports Editor
The Sacred Heart Women’s Basketball team is in the middle of their conference schedule. Through the first nine games of Northeast Conference (NEC) play, the team has a 5-4 record, with their latest decision being a one-point loss to St. Francis Brooklyn on Feb. 1.
The biggest battle that the Pioneers have faced has been off the court. At times, head coach Jessica Mannetti has had a very light bench to work with. However, she motivates her team through positive affirmations, which is crucial in the middle of the season.
“It is very difficult to find motivation to keep moving forward,” said Mannetti. The teammates depend on each other to work hard and succeed throughout the season.”
While players may be injured and cannot contribute to the success of the team on the court, junior Jayla Davis says that there is still an importance to motivate the rest of the team.
“Our dynamic is still the same, the injured players bring the same amount of energy and more as the players who are playing,” said Davis.
This season has been very different compared to just last year. Entering this season, Mannetti lost four seniors, who were staples to the program’s success. While there are still upperclassmen leaders, there is more of an emphasis on teaching the several newcomers to Sacred Heart what the program’s values and beliefs are.
“Leadership matters,” said Mannetti. “Upperclassmen really play a role in the success of the team by helping and motivating the rest of the team.”
For Davis, she tries to set an example for the newcomers in a similar way that former upperclassmen did for her when she was a newcomer.
“I feel that I need to set an example by playing hard and always giving them advice. I realized that I was in the same position as them a couple years ago, and I had juniors and seniors helping me,” said Davis.
Through the grind of conference play, Mannetti reiterates to her team to “stay and survive the course,” explaining that it is a long season with ups and downs. However, it is important to remain focused on the task at hand.
So far this season, the team has been led by junior Adrianne Hagood. The junior is averaging a team-high 17.2 points per game, which is a six-point increase from her totals last season. The team’s second leading scorer, Nikki Johnson, returned from injury in the team’s loss against St. Francis Brooklyn. The redshirt junior had missed the previous 11 games due to injury.
The Pioneers continue a three-game homestand on Feb. 8, when they take on Robert Morris. The Colonials are first in the conference and defeated Sacred Heart 73-43 on Jan. 20.