Any worries Manhattan High girls’ basketball coach Scott Mall might have had about a Junction City upset were eliminated with the second and third quarters the Indians put together on Friday night in a 53-23 win over the Blue Jays.
Leading 10-9 in the second quarter, the Indians scored 10 straight points to go ahead 20-9, including a deflating 3-pointer from Jenna Crusinberry midway through the run. When the third quarter came around, Ehie scored six straight points — on an old fashioned 3-point play and a traditional 3-point shot — during a 10-0 run to close out the period.
Mall said plays like that and intense defensive pressure helped the Indians (7-0) to a convincing win.
“With the way the scoring was going, they weren’t scoring a lot, so when you make plays like that it’s a booster for us and really a downer for them,” he said. “I thought that was a key.”
Kori Kamm made a free throw to open the second quarter for Junction City (0-9), but then Mari Jo Massanet opened a 13-2 run to close out the first half with four quick points, bringing her first half total to 10 points.
After a back-and-forth start to the third quarter, Massanet and Darby Price made baskets on consecutive possessions to open the run Ehie closed.
It was an impressive night defensively for the Indians, with Massanet diving for balls and getting out into pass lanes, Price holding down the lane and the MHS guards locking down the perimeter.
Mall said it was one of the better defensive performances in the Indians’ seven games this season.
“I thought our players on the inside, especially Darby, really put a lot of pressure on them when they tried to work it into the inside, so then they had to go something else,” he said. “You never know how they are doing offensively, but I thought position-wise we did a good job of always being in the right spots, and then working hard once we were there.”
As for Massanet’s defensive performance, Mall said that’s just how she always plays.
“That’s Mari Jo, she does whatever she needs to do,” he said. “When we played Emporia, she was every where helping out, and that’s just the way she plays. I thought we got good play out of her and good play out of our guards too.”
The first quarter was relatively close, with Junction City opening up with the first lead of the game at 2-0. Massanet would score four points and Price added two to put the Indians ahead 6-2 in the first two minutes of the game.
Both teams went cold from there until Massanet scored with 3:13 left in the period. The Blue Jays closed out the quarter on a 6-2 run to trail 10-8.
Massanet finished as the game’s leading scorer with 16 points, while Ehie had eight points and Spilker scored seven. Peyton Pender and Shanna Witt led the Blue Jays with six points apiece.
Mall said he hopes his team can continue its balanced offensive attack.
“Every team I think wants to be balanced, and we’ve gotten a lot out of Mari Jo and a lot out of Darby, but we keeping working with our guards to feel more free about looking for their shot,” he said. “They are very unselfish and they are always looking to help the team.”
The Indians will head on the road for a game at Highland Park on Tuesday.
JUNCTION CITY 23
Junction City 8 3 4 8 — 23
Manhattan 10 13 17 13 — 53
JUNCTION CITY (23) — Pender 6, Witt 6, Gjerstad 4, Kamm 3, Yazzie 2, Waterman 2.
MANHATTAN (53) — Massanet 16, Ehie 8, Spilker 7, Ballard 6, Crusinberry 5, Price 5, Thompson 4, McNair 2.
3-pointers — Manhattan 3 (Ehie, Thompson, Crusinberry).