The Manhattan girls basketball team can breathe a collective sigh of relief.
The No. 2 seed Indians beat No. 7-seeded Olathe Northwest (15-8), 63-52, in the 6A state tournament quarterfinals, guaranteeing themselves two more games.
Head coach Scott Mall liked his team’s performance from beginning to end.
“The first game at state is always the biggest one,” he said. “You have to get over some things … but that’s what gets you to the next two days, so that’s the big one.”
Manhattan wasted no time and needed only 17 seconds to jump out to a 4-0 lead. The Indians rode four 3-pointers in the period by Chrissy Carr to a comfortable lead by the end of the quarter. Carr led all scorers, posting a season-high 27 points.
“My shot really was working today,” Carr said. “I’m happy that they were going in, but also the ball movement that I got from my teammates and just the support behind my teammates was really awesome, and it helped me stay in a good mindset.”
Gigi McAtee also finished in double figures with 10 points and Garrin Williams and Kia Wilson each added seven.
“(McAtee) did a good job taking care of the ball, hits a big shot late when they were making a bit of a run,” Mall said. “Garrin had good drives to the basket, which we thought she could do. They overplay so much to the right, and she’s a good left-handed driver and she got some good drives.”
Mall added that Megan Worthington, who led the Indians with six rebounds and Josie Hilgers provided a spark off the bench and helped combat the Ravens’ rebounding. Olathe Northwest outrebounded the Indians, 31-30, including 13 offensive boards and recorded 14 second-chance points.
“That first half, they really hurt us with second chance points,” Mall said. “Sometimes, we get to where we box out and wait for our teammates to get the rebound. I thought Megan and Josie did a good job of just not settling for that. They went to go get the rebound.”
Olathe Northwest clawed back, closing the gap to six points on a 12-2 run midway through the second quarter. Sarah Gueldner led the Ravens with 10 points in the period and ended the game with 26.
“(Gueldner) was tremendous in that first half,” Mall said. “She was just relentless driving to the basket, and then we think she’s going to stop and she wasn’t going to. And then she hit shots from the outside.”
However, a jumper by Williams kick-started the Indians offense, and they headed into break up by nine.
Manhattan extended its lead in the third quarter, using a 9-0 run to go up by 19 just inside the three-minute mark.
The Indians’ defense was solid, too, holding the Ravens scoreless for over three minutes and allowing just one bucket from Gueldner.
A Gueldner 3-pointer from the top of the key made it a 12-point game early on, and it took the Indians just over three minutes to score in the final period. Both teams traded buckets as the quarter went on, and Olathe Northwest made it an eight-point game with less than a minute left before Manhattan was able to seal the double-digit win.
Manhattan faces the winner of Olathe South and Lawrence at 3 p.m. on Friday. Olathe South handed Manhattan its only loss, 50-38, on Jan. 28 in the final of the McPherson Tournament.
“We had been through a stretch where the teams we played weren’t tall, weren’t physical, and we kind of got used to doing what we wanted to do,” Mall said. “Against them, they’re too good of a team to do that. Hopefully, we’ve improved since then, and we have confidence that we can play with anyone here. We’re eager to prove that.”