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Athlete of the week: Senior leads way for Red Elephants
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Honorable mentions


Jessica Harper, Flowery Branch: 19 points against West Forsyth last Tuesday.

Josh Barrett, Flowery Branch: 29 points against Gainesville last Friday.

Ishamel Hollis, Flowery Branch: 28 points and 22 rebounds against Loganville last Saturday.

Phillips Chau, Flowery Branch: 22 points against Loganville last Saturday.

Haughton Carswell, Lakeview Academy: 17 points against Hebron Christian last Tuesday.

Maddie Haymore, Lakeview Academy: Averaged 21 points in two games last week.

Tyler Ward, Lakeview Academy: 22 points against Athens Christian last Friday.

Richard Tribble, Riverside Military: 25 points against Rabun County last Tuesday.

Dylen Setzekorn, Riverside Military: 16 points against Dawson County last Friday.

Shawn Chapman, Lumpkin County: 20 points and 10 rebounds against Pickens last Tuesday.

Cara Malone, Lumpkin County: 17 points against Pickens last Tuesday.

Ashley Brown, Lumpkin County: Averaged 19.3 points in three games last week.

Austin Tolbert, Lumpkin County: 18 points against Creekview last Friday.

Darius Minor, Jefferson: 19 points against North Oconee last Tuesday.

Ja’Kar Bridges, Buford: 19 points against Cross Keys last Tuesday.

Blanche Alverson, Buford: 18 points against Wesleyan last Friday.

Andraya Carter, Buford: 20 points against Wesleyan last Friday.

Peyton Robertson, Chestatee: 19 points against North Hall last Tuesday.

Branden Jovaag, Chestatee: 16 points against North Hall last Tuesday

McKenna Rushton, North Hall: 19 points against Chestatee last Tuesday, and 13 points and 10 rebounds against Pickens last Friday.

Ty Smith, North Hall: 16 points against Chestatee last Tuesday.

Ashely Lowery, White County: 22 points against Gilmer last Friday.

Kavon Williams, West Hall: 18 points against West Forsyth last Friday.

Jayla Moon, West Hall: 16 points against West Forsyth last Friday.

Blake Sims, Gainesville: 24 points against Flowery Branch last Friday.

Jaymee Carnes, Gainesville: 18 points against Flowery Branch last Friday.

Matt Hollis, Johnson: 17 points against Creekview last Saturday.
Gainesville High guard George Manomano played like he was fighting for a championship last week.

In a way, he was. Looking to keep the Red Elephants at the top of highly competitive Region 7B-AAA, the 6-foot-2 senior averaged 21 points in key wins against Flowery Branch (20 points, seven rebounds) and Johnson (22 points).

The triumphant week for Gainesville (11-8, 5-1 Region 7B-AAA) makes it unbeaten in six games, and with subregion play only getting more intense, Manomano and his teammates are peaking at the right time. The Red Elephants are a mere two weeks from playing the Region 7-AAA tournament.

As Gainesville edges closer to the season’s most important games, Manomano’s job is also elevating in importance, not only as the team’s leading scorer, but as a pivotal defender and an off-court leader as one of the team’s captains.

“He’s brought a little bit of everything,” Red Elephants coach Todd Cottrell said. “He’s improved a lot defensively, he’s rebounding better for us lately and he’s always been able to score.

"He’s got a lot of experience and has a confidence about himself that helps this team.”

Some opponents have figured that out the hard way. As a result, he’s not an unknown to area teams. As a junior, he averaged 14 points per game, was named second-team All-Region and was a Times All-Area honorable mention.

Now a senior, Manomano’s numbers have only gotten better, thanks in part to the addition of a talented supporting cast, most notably fellow guard Blake Sims.

“They give us a good guard combination,” Cottrell said. “Both of them can handle (the ball), both can score, both can defend. They feed off of each other.”

Offensive numbers are only one of the changes that Cottrell has noticed. He believes that Manomano’s biggest improvement has come on defense, much like his teammates. During its current six-game winning streak, Gainesville is limiting its opponents to 54 points per game, two points lower than the subregion average this season.

“Defense is seen where I’ve seen the biggest difference,” Cottrell said. “Our whole team has improved defensively, and George is a big reason for that.”

Like any outstanding high school athlete in his senior year, colleges are inquiring about Manomano’s services. According to Cottrell, he is currently interested in Division-II schools, most notably Faulkner University in Montgomery, Ala.

“That’s probably the school that’s really been on him since day one,” Cottrell said. “But he gets more attention the farther we go and the better we play and he plays.”

Should the Red Elephants take their current streak into the region tournament or even the state playoffs, Manomano’s value could skyrocket as he nears graduation.

“He’s most valuable just being on the floor,” Cottrell said. “He does a lot of really good things, it’s hard to just pinpoint one.”
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