GIRLS BASKETBALL

Northwood’s Bland, McManaman sign letters of intent to play collegiately

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Just before the start of the 2022-23 season, a pair of Northwood girls basketball players have made the decision where they’ll eventually play in college.

On Nov. 9, Northwood’s Te’Keyah Bland and Gianna McManaman gathered around family and friends as they signed their national letter of intent to play at Howard and New Mexico, respectively.

The decision was a long time coming for both girls, especially McManaman, who had been verbally committed to the Lobos since she was a sophomore in 2020-21.

McManaman actually has plenty of family history with her college choice. Her mother, Lia and two of her grandparents, Robert and Bonnie Sanchez, also attended New Mexico. McManaman, a 5-foot-7 guard, is one of a handful of seniors on this Northwood team coming off a state-championship win last season — the first state title in Northwood school history.

McManaman averaged 5.6 points, 2.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game from the point guard position in 2021-22, but she’s expected to take on an even larger role this season. The Chargers hope she can improve on her shooting, where she was already making almost 40% of her 3-point attempts.

Bland, on the other hand, committed to play at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Unlike McManaman, Bland’s recruiting process was open until the final few days before she made her decision. In fact, only a few days before signing her NLI, Bland has a visit at Hampton University. Bland’s last official visit to Howard came in late October.

Standing at 6-foot-1, Bland is a forward who does most of her work down low on both ends of the court, both as a scorer and rebounder/shot-blocker. As a junior in 2021-22, she was second on the team in points per game (8.8) while also averaging 4.4 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 1.4 steals per game.

Bland scored at least 15 points in a game five times last season, including a 17-point performance in Northwood’s win over Enka in the state championship game.

This year, the Northwood girls began the season with a 60-52 loss to Apex Friendship on the road Friday night. The Chargers now have as many losses this season as they did all last winter, when they went 30-1 en route to the state title.

Head coach Kerri Snipes’ team also played on the road Tuesday at Panther Creek. The Chargers are back in action next Tuesday on the road at Wakefield. Northwood plays each of its first four games on the road before taking on Jordan High at home on Dec. 6.

Sports Editor Jeremy Vernon can be reached at jeremy@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @jbo_vernon.

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