Indians 6-0 after beating Junior Blues

By Joel Jellison

Sometimes when a team gets on a run, it just can’t be stopped.

Leading 22-18 in the third quarter on Tuesday, the Manhattan High girls’ basketball team watched as Washburn Rural opened an 8-0 run to steal away the lead and go ahead 26-22.

But the Indians responded with a 17-0 run to end the period, and it spilled into the fourth to finish as a 23-0 run in a 56-34 win for MHS.

Onyeka Ehie knocked down a 3-pointer to open the second half out to a four-point Manhattan (6-0) lead. But the relentless Junior Blues offense came charging back with four points each from Charly Michaelis and Courtney Winkley to go ahead by four.

Mari Jo Massanet brought the momentum back Manhattan’s way with an old-fashioned three-point play to spark a 17-0 run for the remainder of the third quarter.

Massanet scored nine of her game-high 21 points in the 17-0 run, her fourth game in six tries this season with 20-plus points.

MHS coach Scott Mall said everything seemed to key off of Massanet for them in the third and fourth quarters.

“Mari Jo Massanet I thought was just it all night long,” he said. “We made plays off of her — it seemed like every play in the second half was something that had to do with her — and that was big against them and the way they were playing.”

Mall said the scoring run came as a result of a change in the offense the Indians were running, which allowed more balls to get to the middle, where Massanet was often waiting.

“We opened things up a little on the offensive end,” he said. “We tried one different offense and didn’t do a lot, and we tried to just open things up and get the middle opened up, and the girls made a lot of plays.”

Throughout the MHS run, the Junior Blues ran the floor in their desired fastbreak offensive mode, but they were unable to get any shot to go, often out of wide-open looks.

But Mall said it was even bigger when they slowed down the Junior Blues and made them run a half-court offense.

“They got some good shots, but when they have to slow down, they haven’t shot as well,” he said.

Elayna Spilker hit a layup and made a pair of free throws to open the fourth quarter, and Par McNair dropped another two free throws in to give the Indians a 45-26 lead and essentially put the game way.

Ehie finished the game with 11 points, while Spilker had 10, and McNair was just outside of that at eight points.

Mall was even happier with the way the Indians performed at the free-throw line, finishing 25-of-32 overall and 13-of-16 in the fourth quarter alone.

“We made some big baskets at big times there in the second half, and then the free-throw shooting down the stretch was great,” he said. “Girls just stepped up there and put it in the hole.”

It was actually a tightly contested game in the first half, despite what the scoreboard indicated in the end.

Massanet kept the Indians on pace with the Junior Blues in the first quarter to keep the game tied at 4-4, and she knocked down a pair of free throws to give the Indians a 6-4 lead, that was widened to 7-6 by a Darby Price trip to the line that yielded 1-out-of-2 shots, and MHS led 7-6 after one.

Washburn Rural took the lead early in the second period, but the Indians went on a 6-0 scoring run to get ahead 13-8. The Junior Blues tied the game at 15 with a 7-2 run, and the Indians outscored them 4-3 the rest of the half.

The Indians will have another home game this week when they host Junction City. Manhattan won the game against the Blue Jays on their home court in December.

MHS 56, Wash. Rural 34

Washburn Rural   6   12   8   8   — 34

Manhattan   7   12   20   17 — 56

Individual scoring

WASHBURN RURAL (34) — Lane 16, Winkley 8, Michaelis 6, Dillingham 4.

MANHATTAN (56) — Massanet 21, Ehie 11, Spilker 10, McNair 8, Price 5, Crusinberry 1.

3-pointers — Washburn Rural none. Manhattan (Ehie).

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