Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Reluctant Leader Pulls Bartram Trail Higher; Standout Guard Mano Has Taken on New Tasks for Bears This Season

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Reluctant Leader Pulls Bartram Trail Higher; Standout Guard Mano Has Taken on New Tasks for Bears This Season

Article excerpt

Byline: Justin Barney

Bartram Trail girls basketball coach Ben Windle has one complaint about his standout guard Allie Mano.

She doesn't act like one of the area's best players and certainly doesn't talk like one.

When the conversation turns to Mano's role in leading the Bears to just their second state semifinal appearance in program history, there's a bit of awkwardness that accompanies it.

"The kid has an amazing amount of heart," Windle said. "While it's been a collective effort, she's the heart and soul of the team. I told her, you're good. You're going to have to start talking about yourself.' "

Mano, one of the top players on the First Coast, has carried the Bears (21-6) into their first final four appearance since 2005, where they'll face Tallahassee Rickards (21-8) tonight at 6 in the Class 5A state semifinals in Lakeland.

Playing on the biggest stage in the state, Mano is going to be forced to do the uncomfortable.

"I don't really like to talk about myself," said Mano, whose 17.7-points-per-game scoring average ranks in the top five among players in Northeast Florida. "I like it [being a leader], but it all comes from my teammates."

Mano started in Bartram Trail's regional final game against Pensacola Pine Forest as a freshman in 2009 because of her ability to play defense. But as the Bears' top players graduated, Mano had to start doing more than just playing defense.

She had to start playing the part of a leader, even though that role pushed Mano somewhat out of her comfort zone.

Almost reluctantly, Mano took the lead role that she deferred initially to older teammates and has become one of the most decorated and successful Bartram Trail players since Florida's 2006 Miss Basketball, Steffi Sorensen, graduated.

"As I got older, I needed to step up so we could be successful," Mano said. "Last year as a junior, I started to look more and focusing more on scoring than deferring to the other players. I still work well with my teammates. I give them a lot of credit."

The Bears needed Mano to assert herself this year.

Bartram Trail was very limited on experience and in dire need of some tweaks to its defense to prep for a lineup that starts a pair of sophomores and a freshman. …

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