NEW FRANKLIN If the Panthers early season results are any indication of what lays ahead for head coach Gene Schindewolf and his troops, its going to be a whirlwind of a campaign on the hardwood.
Heading into the Christmas break, excluding Friday's showdown at Northwest (Dec. 21), four of the teams first five contests have been decided in the waning minutes of the game. Manchester, which is 2-3 on the season, has wins over Norton (58-55) and Cuyahoga Heights (64-56) at the Greynolds Classic, while dropping decisions to Canton South (55-54), Triway (60-53 in overtime) and Waynedale (83-33).
The Panthers began the year a little behind the eight ball with the school's long playoff run on the gridiron, and are still trying to play catch-up with their oppositions.
"We're still a work in progress, but we are making great strides at getting where we want to be," said Schindewolf (494-339), who is inching closer to the 500-win plateau in his career. "We are getting more comfortable with our rolls and rotation."
When describing the season in a nutshell, Schindewolf remarked, "We are working hard tightening up some things, but overall we've had a great effort at practice and games. We have been able to come from behind and win plus play from front and win so that's helped the learning process. We have players with very little varsity experience so we are learning on the fly.
"We need to value the ball better, but our last few practices have been really competitive, and all our players have worked really hard at getting better."
Top performers for the Panthers in the early going are seniors Sam Hettich, Cameron Adkins, Spencer Bagwell and junior Ethan Wright.
Adkins leads the team in scoring averaging 8.6 and is also tops in rebounding at 6.5. Wright averages 8.2 points, six rebounds and four steals per outing.
Manchester has also got some key contributions from a pair of talented freshman Trent Pappas and Jordan Schindewolf. Schindewolf averages eight points and six rebounds per game.