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Lydia's Return, Part II 12/16/21

Lydia's Return, Part II

By Kevin Taylor 

Alma Schools 

 

ANDERSON, Mo. — Lydia Mann fell over while driving to the basket Tuesday night. Playing basketball in December, much less on back-to-back days, has to some degree taken its toll. 

 

But the Lady Airedales’ guard, laying on the floor as the gym grew quiet, was able to get to her feet once trainer Patti Webb arrived on the scene. 

 

“I called Patti over because I couldn’t get up,” Mann said. “Once I was on my feet, I knew I was going to be alright.”

 

It’s been a topsy-turvy few weeks for Mann. The Alma junior missed all but parts of one game in 2020-21 with a knee injury. Her dad, Alma coach Codey Mann, wasn’t sure at first if she would play in November, much less December. 

 

The original play, he said, was for her to hit the court in January; fresh legs for the tough 5A-West.

 

But here she was, on the basketball court, driving to the basket with the reckless abandonment of a youthful 12-year-old. 

 

“I’ve had so many of those moments, it can be really scary,” Mann said. “My teammates getting me not to focus on my knee but to focus on the game was big.”

 

Mann finished with 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting in Tuesday’s 50-25 win over McDonald County. The Alma junior is averaging 7.7 points per game in eight games. 

 

Mann didn’t play in Wednesday’s 57-46 loss to Frontenac, Ks. 

 

She’s had some moments, such as the 15 points she scored in the Lady Airedales’ 71-29 blowout of West Rusk, Texas last week. 

 

Mann’s had some tough moments, too, like the 0-for-4 night and no points scored during the Lady Airedales’ 45-37 loss to Kingston on Nov. 23. 

 

She has averaged 11.2 points per game during the four games she’s participated in where the Lady Airedales won. 

 

After leaving Tuesday’s game, following her fall, she returned minutes later and swished two long 3-pointers. Prior to that point, Mann had been just 3-for-24 from beyond the arc. 

 

“Obviously, seeing one go in, for a player, that just gives you more confidence,” Mann said. “But after going down, it’s scary.”

 

After losing two games at home in the Alma Classic two weeks ago, Mann and her teammates reeled off five wins in six games prior to Wednesday’s loss. During those five wins, the Lady Airedales are averaging 64.6 points per game. 

 

“I feel like we all got a lot closer once we went to Texas,” Mann said. “Before that, we were just the normal team. We’ve always been close, but for some reason whenever we went to Texas things just all came together. Us staying at the hotel, the chemistry on the court was really good, and I feel like that showed tonight. Coming off a hard loss (Monday) was tough, but I feel like we came together again.”

 

The Lady Airedales drove to Missouri one final time Wednesday and won’t be back on the court again until their 5A-West opener with Vilonia on Jan. 7. 

 

“Our conference has always been difficult and tough,” Mann said. “I feel like we’ve played a lot of games that will prepare us to go into our conference. This will give us a lot of confidence going into our (5A-West) season.”