NEW FRANKLIN — A slow start proved to be no problem for the Manchester girls and their precocious point guard Saturday afternoon.
With Karli Anker and her 31 points leading the way, Manchester (4-4, 2-2) overcame an 11-2 deficit against visiting Northwest — responding with a 22-0 run — and rolled to a 56-42 Principals Athletic Conference victory.
Anker, a 5-foot-6 sophomore, was a slick-dribbling, do-it-all dynamo, directing the offense and keying the defense. She grabbed seven rebounds, made six steals and added three assists.
"She's the real deal," Manchester coach Shawn Zavodney said, recounting Anker's list of accolades as a freshman, which included being named to the All-PAC first team after scoring 20.2 points per game.
"Over 400 points last year scoring total," he said. "She's quite the talent."
Anker was averaging more than 20 points per game before Saturday's outburst. It was her high point total of the season so far, second only to a 36-point game last year.
She made 9-of-23 shots, including 2-of-6 3-pointers, and 11-of-15 free throws.
Her father, Jay, is one of Zovodney's assistants and the person Karli credits for her development.
"My dad's been pushing me ever since I was young in the garage all winter," she said. "And offseason work, also."
After taking the nine-point lead midway through the first quarter, Northwest (6-2, 1-2) didn't score again until 1:52 remained in the second quarter, already trailing 24-11.
Anker scored 13 of the 22 consecutive points. The Panthers led 28-17 at the half. They outscored the Indians 16-8 in the third quarter, building a 44-25 bulge.
"I didn't want to let my team down after all the hard work we've done in practice," Anker said. "I want to get up in the PAC, first place.
"Try to be a leader and tell them to pick it up. Our defense was the start of it."
Zavodney said Anker and her teammates have adjusted to opponents' attempts to slow her down.
"She does a really good job of coming off the picks," Zavodney said. "And we have done a nice job of preparing for that because most teams think that's going to stop her when, in reality, it just helps her get even more open.
"And once she attacks the basket, they're in trouble."
Manchester senior guard Jessalyn Webb contributed eight points, including a pair of 3-pointers.
Two 6-footers, senior Shaye Foutty and sophomore Riley Cudnik, led Northwest with 14 points each. Cudnik also contributed nine rebounds.