Wendy sparkles at basketball

Wendy Manzanares has been playing basketball in Cayman for a number of years. In spite of her on-court accolades her greatest achievements have come from her work on the sidelines.

Manzanares recently coached her team to the Under-19 girls basketball championship.

The head coach of the Sparks saw her club produce a 80-70 victory over the Comets.

The match, which took place last weekend at the Arts and Recreation Centre, served as the championship game for the Appleby U19 Basketball League.

For Manzanares it is her second national title in the last seven months. She guided another Sparks team to victory in the PriceWaterhouseCoopers U16 Basketball League last June.

The wife of 2010 Young Caymanian Leadership Award finalist Felix Manzanares states it feels good to be back on top.

“It’s very good but it wasn’t easy,” Manzanares said.

“It wasn’t a walkover. The team we beat was a combination of ladies from many of last year’s teams.

They were a very good set of ladies and they played with a lot of heart. Winning another championship is nice but I’m not in this for the accolades.

It’s better seeing young ladies step up and lately it has shown on the court.”

A common thread in both championship runs was the star ability of La-Torae Nixon and Courtisha Ebanks.

The girls were the top players during the U19 and U16 competitions. Last weekend’s final further illustrated their brilliance as Nixon led all scorers with 32 points, 20 rebounds and seven steals while Ebanks was a close second with 22 points, eight rebounds and four steals. Nixon, who was the U16 league Most Valuable Player, walked away with the U19 finals MVP award.

The pair had help from Taylor Reid, who produced a stellar double-double effort with 12 points, 16 rebounds and two steals.

Tisha Murillo was another notable performer with five points, a rebound and a steal.

Manzanares states that though Nixon and Ebanks carried her Sparks to victory, the championship was a team effort.

“It was a very good game. It was very intense and my adrenaline was pumping as there were a lot of Sparks fans (in the stands). Courtisha and La-Torae carried the team but they got a lot of support from girls like Taylor (Reid) and Imani Abdul-Jabbar (four points, three assists).

They played a vital role and we had a lot of good defenders.

“I have to say though that La-Torae is an amazing player at 13 years-old. She was top scorer in the finals and had a record 55 points in the semi-finals (against the Monarchs).

In a couple of years time I can only imagine where she will be.”