Finding balance, depth led MHS’ run to state

By Joel Jellison

For the first quarter of the season, Mari Jo Massanet defined the Manhattan High girls’ basketball team’s offense.

Guards would pass up open shots to force passes to the player that averaged more than 20 points per game for the first six games, and the other forward on the court would often look to make more than the extra pass.

But as the season progressed, so too did comfort in the offense.

One through nine, and sometimes more than that, MHS coach Scott Mall said the team has been steadily productive. He said that depth could be big for the Indians when they open the Class 6A tournament on Wednesday against Olathe South at 8:15 p.m. at Wichita State’s Koch Arena.

“I think we’ve gotten good contributions from all nine girls that have played a lot, and often from the 10th one,” he said. “And that should be important here because Olathe South plays about seven different girls. Hopefully that will be to our advantage.”

Mall said the depth and balance is a product of the players learning to fit into roles. No matter who is on the court, the role is always the same for the position. He said any girl on the team seems to fill the role they are placed into.

“All of our girls, no matter who has been out there, have done a good job of fitting to the same thing, no matter which two forwards are down there, they are looking for the same thing. The girls all over the floor know where they need to go and where the ball needs to go, and in our kind of offense that’s a really good thing.”

The offense found its success outside of Massanet from a simple result — the coaches asked for it.

Mall said they asked their guards to be more aggressive with the ball. He said when the team played without Massanet against Salina Central after her knee injury, they took a step forward.

“We really wanted our guards to shoot more, they were looking to penetrate or kick it to Mari Jo, and once we played better teams and they tried to take Mari Jo away, we had to get points elsewhere,” he said. “I think the Salina Central game was really important for Onyeka (Ehie) for that reason because that’s when she started to really get some penetration and

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