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Manuel's improved play leads Spartans' to victory

November 27, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer
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During her sophomore year last season, Central Union High School girls basketball player Janiece Manuel struggled, averaging only about three points per contest.

At 5-foot-11 one would figure Manuel, the team's center, could dominate. But playing basketball was new to her. She had not played basketball until last year, explaining her struggles.

All summer, though, she worked on her game, trying to improve on her raw skills.

On Friday against Crawford High of San Diego, Manuel proved the work she put in paid off as she scored a game-high 17 points in Central's season-opening 54-21 victory.

"Before the game everyone on the team was really nervous about it just because it was a San Diego team," said the 16-year-old junior. "People always tell us that if we're going to be a good team, we have to beat the San Diego teams."

If the Spartans were nervous it didn't show as they more than doubled up the score on Crawford.

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"Right now the team is looking pretty good. Everybody has spots they need to work on, but overall I think we're looking good," said Manuel, who also starred on the Central volleyball team. "For me, I need to work harder on my post moves and my defense."

Considering last year was her first playing basketball, she has shown tremendous improvement, going from a back-up to starting center.

She thinks her confidence level has grown because of the work she put in and the support she's received from teammates.

"Last year if I would struggle, my teammates would come up to me and tell me things were going to get better and everything was OK," said Manuel. "Now they're telling me that I'm much more improved and that I'm a better player than last year. That really helps my confidence.

"When they say things like that, it makes me want to work harder, play better and not let them down."

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