TOPEKA — Darby Price played the role of closer for Manhattan High on Tuesday at Washburn Rural.
The MHS sophomore scored four points in the fourth quarter to help the Indians create the distance needed to close out the game 48-38, and cap a crazy day that started out with a long bus trip to Topeka.
The MHS girls’ bus experienced problems when it took off from Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon, delaying the varsity start time by nearly an hour and forcing the JV game to play shortened quarters.
But by the time the fourth quarter came around, the Indians were playing in full time force and putting the trip behind them.
Mari Jo Massanet and Onyeka Ehie opened the period with a pair of buckets to push the Indians’ lead to five points, and Price scored baskets on consecutive trips with less than a minute to play to help the Indians maintain a six-point lead with 2:11 to play. The Indians finished the game off at the free throw line.
MHS coach Scott Mall said the late plays to Price were a good indication of how much patience the offense had.
“We moved the ball around and got it to Mari Jo and Darby did what she wanted to do and got open under the basket,” he said. “And she hit a nice reverse shot one time.”
The game was tied at 21 going into the second half, and the Indians for a 3-pointer from Elayna Spilker and a bucket from Massanet to take a 26-23 lead.
Manhattan led by as much as five points before Washburn Rural rallied back and got a 3 from Charly Michaelis to tie the game at 29. Massanet hit 1-of-2 shots from the free throw line to put MHS up 30-29 before the fourth.
Mall said he thought the team did a pretty good job throughout the game.
“I thought first half we came out and played pretty well for playing in a place we’ve never been before,” he said. “The girls really battled and we had a couple lapses offensive and defensively that made it tight, but second half I thought we did a really good job defensively of stopping what they wanted to do.”
The Indians started off hot from the field with a 3-pointer from Ehie that helped set the pace for a 9-4 MHS lead midway through the first quarter.
Manhattan wouldn’t score again from that point on in the period, as the Junior Blues used a 8-0 run in the final 4 and a half minutes to go ahead 12-9.
Ehie continued to shoot well from the perimeter in the second quarter, hitting one in the opening minute to tie the game at 12. Price knocked down a pair of free throws to give Manhattan the lead, but Hannah Weingartner hit a 3-pointer to give Washburn Rural a one-point lead.
Another 3 from Ehie made the score 17-15 in favor of MHS, and Massanet pushed the lead to three points with a free throw make. Washburn Rural finished the first half on a 6-3 run - with all points coming from Erika Lane to leave the game knotted up at 21 a piece.
Mall said the 3s from Ehie in the first half were all big ones.
“They were playing a man defense where they sagged in a lot and tried to take away Mari Jo, and take way penetration,” he said. “The girls did a good job of getting a little penetration and getting it to Ony, and she stuck it in the hole.”
Massanet led all scorers with 14 points, while Lane had 12 for the Junior Blues. Ehie scored 11 for Manhattan.
Mall thought the team did a good job of slowing down Lane throughout the game.
“She is so tough because she goes to the basket so well and can finish in tough situations,” he said. “A couple times we forgot about her a little bit and she got inside and made stuff happen, but we did a good job on her.”
The Indians will play their second to last home game of the season on Friday against Seaman.
MANHATTAN 48, WASHBURN RURAL 38
Manhattan 9 12 9 18 — 48
Washburn Rural 12 9 8 9 — 38
MANHATTAN (48) — Massanet 14, Ehie 11, Price 6, McNair 5, Spilker 5, Crusinberry 7.
WASHBURN RURAL (38) — Lane 12, Michaelis 10, Weingartner 9, Winkley 6, Cunningham 1.
3-pointers — Manhattan 6 (Ehie 3, Crusinberry, McNair, Spilker). Washburn Rural 2 (Weingartner, Michaelis).