with video: Manchester community turns out for Breslin Center bound girls basketball team
Mike Mulholland | MLive.com
No one would have been around to notice. They were all at Jonesville High School, cheering on the girls basketball team.
John Korican sat high in the bleachers at the game and looked at the court and stands below, amazed at the droves of Flying Dutch faithful that had turned out to watch the team’s 67-43 win in the Class C state quarterfinals against previously undefeated Niles Brandywine.
Korican, who coached the team in the 1980s, recalled when the team struggled to draw fans in the double-digits.
“There were times when there were 10 people in the stands,” estimated Korican, including parents in his count.
Korican also recalled a season when the team didn’t win a single game.
On Tuesday, the Flying Dutch beat a team that hadn’t had a single loss all season in front a packed house and on Thursday will play at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.
Oh how far they have come.
“I feel like the entire student body is here,” Korican said. “This is awesome.”
Chants of “Bres-lin Cen-ter,” echoed throughout the gym and the bleachers shook as Manchester began to dribble out the clock with two minutes remaining. The student section had been warned several times before and during the game about various fairly innocent infractions such as jumping in the bleachers and using noisemakers.
Nothing could stop them from shaking the gym with the Dutch up 24 -- as many points as they had surrendered since the end of the first quarter -- with two minutes remaining.
“We’ll be at Breslin for sure,” said Brian Robert, one of several male athletes from various teams leading the cheering section at the game.
The players have appreciated the support.
“Coming from a small town, a lot of boys sports get the most support, of course, but it feels great to see everyone here,” said Manchester senior McKenna Erkfritz. “It really helped us tonight. Without all these fans, we wouldn’t have made it as far as we did.”
It hasn’t just been fellow high school students who have been supportive of the team. The elementary school students of Manchester threw an unexpected pep rally for the team, businesses downtown have their windows painted in support of the team and former players, young and old, littered the stands on Tuesday.
“The (elementary school students) look up to these kids," said Manchester coach Cori Kastel. "Maybe it will inspire some of these little girls to get the basketball out and shoot more often, so they can be a McKenna (Erkfritz) a Taylor (Manders) or a Jesse (Coltre).”
“It is so awesome, our community has been the best,” Manders said.
Thursday’s game in East Lansing will be at 11 a.m., the middle of school and business hours, but that surely won’t stop the community from turning out.
Athletic director Wes Gall said many of the students traveled to Jonesville by way of a fan bus. One hasn’t been approved by the school’s administration for Thursday’s semifinal or possibly Saturday’s final, but he said another inquiry will be made on Wednesday morning.
One thing’s for certain, there will be no trouble filling it.