The future was not looking bright for the CCSJ Women’s Basketball team heading into this season. The 2013-14 campaign saw the women’s team finish 14 and 16 overall, with a 6 and 11 conference record. The team had also graduated their top two players from last season, Dominique Edwards and Crystal Daniels. To make matters worse, the team did not even have a coach until the week before the season began. Through all of this doubt and uncertainty, the team finally received some exciting news.
On November 3, 20014, CCSJ Athletics announced the hiring of John Maniatis, one of the most prolific women’s high school basketball coaches in the area, and quite possibly beyond. Coach Maniatis comes to CCSJ from Hillcrest High School where he posted a record of (487-100) over 20 years as head coach there. Over his 20 year tenure, his teams won 15 regional titles, 7 sectional titles and 3 super sectional titles. He also has two top-three finishes in the state of Illinois under his belt (2nd -2010 & 3rd- 2011).
In April of this year, he was inducted into the IHSA Girls Basketball Hall of Fame. Clearly, Coach Maniatis knows how to win, and how to help his players reach their maximum potential.
Maniatis seems to be settling in quite well here at CCSJ, as his players already seem to have a respect for the way he goes about coaching. Senior Alyssa White described him as, “…intense with a very high basketball IQ. He knows the game very well.”
Senior Guard Giacanna Ezell had a very similar opinion.
“I’ve known Coach Maniatis over the years from Hillcrest High School, and he is greatly enthused about the game of basketball. He gets really involved with us as a team and pushes us to get better every practice and game.”
Even though they finished under .500 last season, there is definitely talent on this team. The team finished 9th in the conference in scoring, 4th in the conference in points allowed, and 2nd in steals. At times, the team looked somewhat disorganized last season, another aspect Coach Maniatis will seek to rectify immediately.
This season, the CCSJ Women’s Basketball team could turn some heads. With a great new coach and a talented, senior-dominated roster, this season could be a great start to Coach Maniatis’ career at CCSJ, as well as a successful one on the court for his team.
The team, for its part, is only concerned with getting better every day and giving maximum effort for each other. “At the end of the year, I expect us to be happy with the effort we put forth going into every game, going hard and leaving everything we had on the floor,” Senior China Cordova said. She continued, “I know we can make it far even though we’re the underdogs. We only have nine players, so we aren’t a very deep team. But we have heart, and we aren’t going down without a fight.”
“This has not been an easy year for any of us,” Ezell said. “But as long as at the end of the season, we can say we left it all on the court, win or lose, I will be happy with us, and feel like we finished like champions.”
How far Coach Maniatis and his 2014-2015 Women’s team can go is anyone’s guess, but his hiring has certainly inspired his team and its supporters. Just how far this confidence can carry them, well, only time can tell. At least now there’s a reason to be optimistic again.
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