Hines Furniture Athlete of the Week: Laurence Manning's Bennett provides offensive spark


Laurence Manning Academy girls basketball got off to a fast start last week thanks to Audrey Bennett.

Bennett led the Lady Swampcat offense as LMA started the season 2-1 with the one loss coming in overtime. Her standout performance also earned her recognition as the Hines Furniture Athlete of the Week.

"I've always thought of Laurence Manning as a family," Bennett said of winning the vote. "I'm thankful for their support."

Bennett started the week with a spectacular 19-point performance to help beat Carolina Academy 46-28, a team that edged LMA by a point last season.

"I told the team we needed to win this year," Bennett said of starting the season with a win. "Being a senior, giving 110% is all I really want from myself and everybody else on the team. I feel like me being out there with a good group of girls helps out a lot."

The Lady Swampcats routed The King's Academy on Thursday, running away with a 46-15 win. Bennett again led the team with 13 points, but she was saving her energy for a tough Orangeburg Prep team to finish the week on Friday.

Bennett hadn't beaten OP in her high school career and hoped to change that.

After a slow first half, Bennett was electric in the second half. She scored 11 points in the fourth quarter to lead an LMA comeback. Down six points with a minute to play, Bennett hit two free throws and two layups to tie the game and force overtime.

"I've played against OP since I was on JV in the seventh grade, and I haven't beaten them one time. That was really something I wanted to do, and I told the team that starting off, Bennett said. "We were down, and I wanted to win. That's the biggest thing."

Bennett's scoring push forced overtime, but she fouled out in the extra quarter and the Lady Swampcats couldn't finish off the comeback. OP won 35-32.

Bennett scored more than half of LMA's points with a 17-point performance.

"I think it was a great game. We gave it our all," Bennett said of the loss. "Everyone in the stands told us they were proud of us for giving it our best."

Being able to get out to a good start is important to Bennett, as she wants to finish off her high school career with a strong senior season.

After COVID-19 shortened last season, Bennett is savoring every game.

"I've played basketball all of my life, and being a senior, this is it. This is our last go around. We want to end the season with no regrets," Bennett said. "It's nice knowing if you give all that you can, you won't look back at those games wondering if you could give more. That's always what I tell the team, especially after last year. We're always the underdogs, but to prove people wrong is something nice."

Bennett is an important team leader.

"I knew Audrey would be our floor leader this year, but I have been amazed at her intensity on defense and ability to score early in the season," said head coach Betsy Reynolds of Bennett, who also added 13 steals last week. "We have been able to mix in younger players at the other guard positions to give them experience with her dominant performances thus far, which should really help our program in the future."

That role as a leader is important to Bennett. As a point guard, she said she feels its her job to point the team in the right direction.

"I love being point guard. I kinda love having that control of the team because I feel like I've had a lot of experience," Bennett said. "Being a point guard and being a leader, the team looks up to me. It makes me feel better, it makes me play better, but it also helps to have teammates like I do that can back me up and support me."