ll the Manhattan High girls needed was the third quarter to capture an outright Centennial League title on Friday.
The Indians outscored Shawnee Heights 10-2 in the third period on senior night, and went on to win 52-26 — a game that made MHS the league champs with two games remaining on the schedule.
It’s the Indians’ second title in three years.
The Thunderbirds, who scored no field goals in the third quarter and made just 5-of-28 from the field and 4-of-12 from long range for the game, scored the opening points of the second half on free throws. But the T-Birds wouldn’t score again until a minute-and-a-half into the fourth quarter.
The Indians (16-2, 11-0) used that time to rattle off 10 straight points, including six from senior Jenna Crusinberry, to go ahead 34-16 before the final period got underway.
MHS coach Scott Mall said his team played about as well as it could defensively in the third period.
“We did a lot of good things that quarter, even thought we didn’t score much,” he said. “Throughout the game, I thought we did a lot of things right.”
Shawnee Heights (5-13, 3-8) would cut the game to a 22-point deficit early in the fourth quarter, but the Indians paced the game the rest of the way, even after plugging in their backups, on the way to an easy win.
With many areas of their offense taken away, the T-Birds tried to get the ball inside to post player Kylee Kennedy throughout the game. But she made no shots from the field, and finished just 6-of-12 at the free throw line.
“They really pounded the ball in to Kennedy more than they have in the past, so I thought we did a good job of getting position on her,” Mall said. “It seemed like she scored a bunch points, but all she got were the free throws she made, so our girls really did a good job in on her.”
The game opened with Manhattan quickly taking control, as Ehie scored four of the first eight points for the Indians to push the team out in front, 8-1.
Bailey Wells knocked down the first field goal of the game for the T-Birds with a long 3-pointer to cut the game to a 4-point lead, but Shawnee Heights was held to one point for the remainder of the quarter.
Kristen Thompson drilled an open 3 with 2 seconds left to put the Indians in front by 10.
Shawnee Heights got 3s from Danielle Poblarp and Kelsey Morgan in the opening minutes of the second quarter to bring the team within eight points, but a free throw from Elayna Spilker and a 3 from Crusinberry put MHS up 12.
Although Shawnee Heights made several 3s early on, Mall said he thought his team defended well on the perimeter.
“We tried to work hard on their 3-point girls, but then they got behind us and they tried to look for them more,” he said. “I thought we missed them a few times in the first half, but that’s going to happen. For the most part, the girls focused in really good on what we wanted to do defensively.”
Massanet was fouled on an inside bucket with 10 seconds left in the first half and completed the three-point play to put MHS up 29-14 at the break.
Ehie and Crusinberry led the Indians with nine points apiece, while Veronica Pitchford scored six and Massanet had five.
Mall said the senior players all played a big part in the Indians’ balanced offensive attack.
“Fitting on senior night to have our seniors really all have great moments in the game,” he said. “Veronica hit some big shots, Jenna shot the ball well, Mari Jo passed the ball, rebounded the ball, did what she did, and Ony hit some big baskets in the first half and did a good job defensively.”
SHAWNEE HEIGHTS 26
Shawnee Heights 5 9 2 10 — 26
Manhattan 15 14 10 13 — 52
SHAWNEE HEIGHTS (26) — Morgan 7, Poblarp 6, Kennedy 6, Wells 4, Pierce 2, Crossley 1.
MANHATTAN (52) — Ehie 9, Crusinberry 9, Spilker 6, Pitchford 6, Price 6, Massanet 5, Thompson 5, Ballard 4, McNair 2.
3-pointers — Shawnee Heights 4 (Poblarp 2, Wells, Morgan). Manhattan 4 (Ehie, Crusinberry, Spilker, Thompson).