Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tatiana Manuel proves invaluable on AATL's path back to states

Tatiana Manuel, who transferred from Brooks DeBartolo, has watched her game blossom.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times (2012)

Tatiana Manuel, who transferred from Brooks DeBartolo, has watched her game blossom.

TAMPA — In tiny Class 2A gyms or the cavernous Sun Dome, Tatiana Manuel is impossible to miss.

The rail-thin, 6-foot-2 senior is one of Academy at the Lakes' focal points, in transition, in the post or on defense.

And the Wildcats can, in part, trace their return trip to the Lakeland Center for today's 4 p.m. state semifinal showdown against Sheridan Hills Christian to the progress from the Brooks DeBartolo transfer.

"Would we have gotten this far without her?" coach Karim Nohra said. "Probably not. Let's be honest."

Although AATL has established itself as the North Suncoast's top program, the Wildcats needed Manuel this season to earn a second consecutive state appearance.

Last year's lineup featured strong outside shooting, but two of those guards, Amelia Oliver and Samantha Fernandez, graduated. That pushed the Wildcats to forge a new identity, starting with their newfound inside presence.

"She's taken for granted, I think," AATL forward Andrea Mauger said after her team's practice at USF on Monday evening. "She's what gets us going."

Manuel's success shouldn't come as a surprise. She earned honorable mention all-Hillsborough County honors last winter and ranked among the state's leaders with 7.6 blocks per game. Mauger calls her the Wildcats' security blanket on defense because of her ability to cover up mistakes.

But before entering Pasco County, Manuel's offense was a work in progress. In three years with the Phoenix, she scored 655 points. In one season at AATL, she has scored 413 points, and counting.

"That's because I've demanded it," Nohra said. "You score."

Manuel credits Nohra for boosting her scoring, from 11.7 points per game last season to 15.3 this winter — second on the team to Mauger (17.8) — while shooting 61 percent from the field. Manuel hardly knew what an up-and-under move was before coming to the Wildcats. Now it's part of her growing repertoire.

In Monday's practice, Nohra harped on his star center's offense — from how she runs the floor to how she should post up. After Manuel missed an early free throw, he reminded her to shoot the ball up, not just out. She swished the next one.

"He's taught me a lot I should have known by the time I was here," Manuel said. "He taught me how to run the floor better. He taught me some post moves I didn't know. He taught me how to shoot better, how to dribble better."

Those lessons paid off the most in AATL's three playoff blowout victories. She had at least 20 points and 10 boards in each contest, including a 28-point, 17-rebound, six-block performance in Saturday's region final.

After AATL sends the team off to Lakeland with a 12:30 p.m. victory walk, Manuel will be tested even more today against the Hollywood-based Sharks.

Sheridan Hills Christian features two 6-footers, including Natasha Patullo, who leads the team with eight boards per game and is second in scoring (15.9 ppg).

Matt Baker can be reached at or on Twitter @MattHomeTeam.

State semifinals

At the Lakeland Center

Admission is $10 per session; parking is $7

Class 2A: Academy at the Lakes vs. Hollywood Sheridan Hills Christian, 4 p.m. today

On the Web: We'll be live blogging the game at

Tatiana Manuel proves invaluable on AATL's path back to states 02/18/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 9:17am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rowdies shut out at Pittsburgh


    PITTSBURGH — The Rowdies lost their first USL game in nearly a month, 1-0 to Pittsburgh on Thursday night.

  2. LSU's Paul Mainieri defends FSU's Mike Martin; Gators play Friday


    OMAHA, Neb. — LSU coach Paul Mainieri says whether Florida State's Mike Martin ever wins a national championship should have no bearing on how his long career in college baseball is judged.

    MADE IT: Josh Watson beats the tag of Louisville catcher Colby Fitch during TCU’s 4-3 win in the College World Series.
  3. Lightning fans, don't get attached to your first-round draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announces his first-round pick tonight in the amateur draft at No. 14, he'll invite the prospect onto the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) eludes  Montreal Canadiens left wing Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of Wednesday???‚??„?s (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman also has top-9 wing on his wish list

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Much has been made about the Lightning's interest in bolstering its blue line, even after last week's acquisition of defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev.

    Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gestures as he speaks to the media about recent trades during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning, over the past few days, have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and forward Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA101