When the Manhattan High girls’ basketball team lost its first game of the season at the Mid-America Classic this season, Onyeka Ehie knew it was time to get serious.
Since that loss, Ehie has turned her game up a notch and has played an integral part in the Indians’ path to an 18-2 regular season.
With the Indians opening sub-state at home on Wednesday against Wichita Southeast, she isn’t ready to quit either. Manhattan hasn’t played in the state tournament since 1991, and Ehie said this group wants to be the team to put an end to that streak.
“It’s kind of like the white elephant in the room sometimes, but I have so much confidence in our team that we will make it to state,” she said. “Our number one goal was to win state, and number two on the list is make it to state, so we are just moving down that list.”
The MHS senior has played some of her best basketball of the season over the past two years in the last month of the regular season — February.
When the Indians lost to Hays in McPherson back in January, Ehie took it upon herself to raise her level of play.
“I knew we had to pick it up,” she said. “It’s my senior year and I see myself as one of the leaders of this team. I felt the need to set a good example.”
Ehie is averaging 8.6 points per game this season as Manhattan’s starting point guard, and has knocked down a team-high 27 3-pointers.
But MHS Scott Mall said her most impressive stat is she has only 18 turnovers, averaging less than a turnover per game this season.
“She’s added a lot to her game and she has had a lot more work this year because she is also our point guard most of the time,” he said.
“Show me another point guard who plays that many minutes and averages less than a turnover a game, it just doesn’t happen.”
Ehie said her recent performances are a result the season approaching its most important stretch.
She also said she has grown more confidence as the season has progressed, leading her to attempt more shots.
“It’s towards the end of the season, so that’s when I need to step it up more and try to see what the best I can do is, and not settle as much as I do in the beginning of the year,” she said. “I’ve been trying to work harder to contribute to us winning games.”
Mall said for a time this season, Ehie used the 3-pointer as her primary scoring option and struggled when trying to hit shots from anywhere else on the floor.
But now, she is changing her game on a nightly basis to what she is best at in that current game.
“She’s done a really good job of adjusting,” he said. “The other night against Topeka High she missed some 3s early so she started putting the ball on the floor and did a really good job of getting penetration and scoring over people on pull-up jumpers.”
Mall also said she has the somewhat rare ability at the high school level to create off the dribble.
“Usually, you have to sacrifice something for that,” he said. “You can do one thing, but you have to give up something else, but she has been able to do all of it. She scores, she hits 3s, she takes care of the ball and she guards the other team’s point guard every night, and she is good at all of it.”
With her recent success on the court, Ehie has received some attention from junior colleges in Kansas. With each game, more and more schools show up to talk with the senior guard.
She says the experience has been very interesting.
“I want to continue playing basketball, so hopefully I can find a school that I like,” she said. “I think about seven schools have talked to me and it’s mainly been JUCOs.”
Mall said once she arrives on campus for a team and the coaching staff has a chance to work with her, they will like her even more.
“They will see how hard she works at everything she is capable of doing,” he said. “We have an inside game that’s good, so she doesn’t get the chance to shoot as much, but she fits in.”
With a win over Wichita Southeast on Wednesday, the Indians would advance to the sub-state final to play the winner of Washburn Rural and Derby.