Senior hopes to lead Cougars to fourth straight winning season

Positive postgame reinforcement is never in short supply for Greenwood Christian Academy senior Sarah Mangan.

The eighth of 10 children, Mangan receives plenty of hugs, back-pats and optimistic text messages regardless how she performs on the basketball court.

“Being in a big family, I definitely have a lot of support,” said Mangan, whose siblings range in age from 29 (oldest sister Cindy) to 14 (youngest brother Daniel). “It’s very important because I wouldn’t be where I am without my family.”

It’s likely Greenwood Christian wouldn’t have much chance at a fourth consecutive winning season without Mangan, a left-handed 5-foot-11 center who has been an interior force since enrolling at the school before the beginning of her sophomore year (she was home-schooled from kindergarten through the ninth grade).

“In my opinion, Sarah still has an outside chance of scoring 1,000 points in her career and getting between 800 and 900 rebounds in three years,” Greenwood Christian coach Alan Weems said. “Sarah is an outstanding leader. An enthusiastic kid who has a very positive affect on our other players.”

Mangan’s debut campaign at Greenwood Christian netted averages of 13.1 points and 13 rebounds; as a junior she again averaged a double-double (11.4 ppg, 10.1 rpg). She also enters this season’s opener against Monrovia having blocked 51 shots in her career.

Her single-game highs from a year ago were 24 points and 16 rebounds in a victory against against Southside Christian and three blocks against Tri-County Area (Michigan).

Mangan laughs about being listed as 6 feet in game programs in that it’s a long-running source of humor between her and her coach.

The senior is 5-9½ in bare feet and 5-11 once wearing high-tops, but Weems just goes ahead and rounds Mangan up to 6-0.

Either way, she presents the kind of height and skill set most Class A girls basketball teams don’t possess.

“I’m fine with being tall. It’s what I was given, and I take advantage of the perks,” said Mangan, whose 4.0 grade-point average has her in the running to be class valedictorian. “I started playing basketball in the sixth grade and have always been one of the tallest on my team.”

Still in search of their first sectional title, the Cougars need her to play taller than ever before.

GCA schedule

Date;Opponent;Time

Nov. 6;Monrovia;7:30 p.m.

Nov. 9;at Arlington;7:30 p.m.

Nov. 11;at Decatur Central;7:30 p.m.

Nov. 14-18;Johnson County tournament

Nov. 25;at Waldron;1:30 p.m.

Nov. 28;at Speedway;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 1;at Eminence;6 p.m.

Dec. 4;Bethesda Christian;6:15 p.m.

Dec. 5;at Central Christian;7 p.m.

Dec. 7;Edinburgh;7 p.m.

Dec. 12;Morristown;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 16;at International School of Indiana;1 p.m.

Dec. 28;Tri County Area (Michigan);6 p.m.*

Dec. 29;Walled Lake (Michigan);2:30 p.m.**

Jan. 2;Indianapolis Lutheran;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 4;at Hauser;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 6;Indianapolis Shortridge;6 p.m.

Jan. 11;Irvington Prep Academy;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 13-25;PAAC playoffs

Jan. 18-20;at Central Christian tournament

Jan. 25;Southwestern (Shelby);7:30 p.m.

*At Hoosier Gym

** At Greenwood Middle School

Scouting the Cougars

Head coach: Alan Weems

Last season: 13-11, lost to Morristown in first round of sectional

Key returnees: Grace Apgar, Sr., G; Morgan Haynes, So., F/C; Jessica Kjerstad, So., F; Sarah Mangan, Sr., F/C; Alexis Mead, So., G; Grace Peters, Sr., G

Fresh faces: Abi Hickman, Sr., F; Abby Muck, Fr., G/F; Abby Phelps. Fr., G/F; Katie Potter, Fr., G/F; Izzy Reed, Fr., F.

Outlook: Another winning season is definitely within reach for the Cougars, who return 73 percent of their scoring from a year ago while adding some talented newcomers. Mangan, who is coming off her second consecutive season averaging a double-double, is a force down low. She’s improved her mid-range game, which could put greater pressure on opposing teams. Peters and Mead both averaged 9.4 points last season, with Peters also working for 5.5 rebounds, 3.1 steals and 1.8 assists per game. Reed is expected to make an immediate impact as a freshman once she heals from a fractured hand sustained late in the Cougars’ volleyball season.

Coachspeak: “This is a very quick, very athletic team. Our starters will be between 5-foot-6 and 6 foot. We’re not a huge team, but we’re not short. There were a couple of games this summer where we hit eight or nine 3-pointers.” — Weems

Author photo
Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at mbeas@dailyjournal.net.