The Manhattan High girls’ basketball team opened sub-state play on Wednesday with an easy 54-23 win over Wichita Southeast in the team’s final appearance at home.
The team will play a very familiar opponent in Washburn Rural on Friday at 5:30 p.m. at Topeka High.
Manhattan has defeated the Junior Blues on two different occasions this season, at home and on the road. It has often been the neutral site game between the teams in the sub-state final that has been the toughest challenge for the Indians to win.
In his time as the girls’ coach at Manhattan High, Scott Mall’s teams have often had their season ended by the Junior Blues in that game, but the coach said they have to ignore that stigma.
“We are just going to focus on the fact that we have a good team and we know we can play well,” he said. “We’ve played well against them before and so we can do it again. We don’t have to do anything superhuman, we just have to do the things we’ve done all year.”
Mall said they know that despite the wins early in the season, the work of the regular season can be thrown out at this time of the year.
Both teams will be playing one game with everything to lose. A loss ends the season, but a win advances the team to next week’s Class 6A tournament in Wichita. The Indians haven’t played in the 6A tournament since 1991.
“They have a very, very good team, and we feel good that we were able to beat them twice, but it all comes down to this and we will have to do it again,” he said. “The girls can do it and I know they feel confident, but they have a lot of respect for Washburn Rural and they know we will have to play well.”
Wednesday’s game against Southeast wasn’t close from the start, as the Indians jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the first five minutes, with five points coming from Mari Jo Massanet, and another five from Elayna Spilker. Southeast didn’t score its first points until the 2:29 mark of the first quarter, and the Indians led 16-2 after one period.
Mall said the team got off to a great start to the game, thanks in part to his junior point guard Spilker and sophomore forward Price.
“You really look for that in a game like this and we’ve done it all the time,” he said. “I thought Elayna and Darby did a good job of getting us off to a good start. They both hit free throws and did a nice job of taking it to the hole.”
Manhattan opened the second quarter on a 14-2 run to push its lead out to 30-4. The Buffaloes scored a pair of baskets in the final two minutes to close it to 30-8.
Massanet had a game-high seven points in the first half, while Spilker and Darby Price scored six points apiece. Freshman Caroline Ballard had five points off the bench, all coming in the second quarter.
Price scored the first five points of the third quarter to push the Indians ahead 35-8 before Southeast got its first basket of the half from Kaylie Ines with 4:45 to play.
Spilker opened an 11-0 run after that, scoring four points along the way. Par McNair led the run though, scoring her first five points of the game and hitting the game’s only 3-pointer.
Southeast finished the period on a 4-0 run to cut the lead to 46-14 before the final quarter. The deficit caused the fourth period to be played with a running clock.
The fourth quarter was highlighted mostly by the MHS bench players, which entered the game shortly after Massanet opened the period with a pair of free throws. Southeast outscored the Indians 9-8 in the fourth, but it didn’t make a difference in the score.
Mall said having the bench players on the court much of the second half was important in the grand scheme of things before Friday’s game.
“I thought that was big,” he said. “It’s a combination of taking stress off the game and giving those girls that play a lot the chance to be fresh and the ones that don’t play a lot to get some experience in sub-state.”
Price led the way with 11 points for the Indians, while Spilker scored 10. It’s the second straight game they led the team in scoring.
WICHITA SOUTHEAST 23
Southeast 2 6 6 9 — 23
Manhattan 16 14 16 8 — 54
WICHITA SOUTHEAST (23) — Plowden 10, Ines 5, Bullock 4, Glover 2, Grim 2.
MANHATTAN (54) — Price 11, Spilker 10, Massanet 9, Ballard 7, McNair 5, Ehie 4, Proctor 4, Pitchford 2, Thaemert 2.
3-pointers — Southeast none. Manhattan 1 (McNair).