The Manhattan High girls’ basketball team experienced the difficulty of playing at Emporia two years ago, when the game came down to the last second.
The Indians won that game, but when the teams met up in a rematch in Emporia last season, the Spartans controlled the game and held MHS to a then season-low 29 points in a 39-29 win.
Manhattan (16-2, 11-0) will again be in Emporia on Tuesday, looking to build upon its already Centennial League-winning season as it gets prepared for sub-state next week.
MHS coach Scott Mall said even though the Spartans have struggled this season, Emporia is always a hard place to play.
“We, like everybody, struggle there, and they’re really kind of getting things going there,” he said. “Their record isn’t great, but they’ve got some young girls really stepping up and scoring some points that weren’t the first time.”
Emporia is typically a tough, physical defensive team that uses a variety of pressure defenses to frustrate the opposing team.
Mall said their style of play didn’t slow down his team in the matchup in Manhattan, but it’s not always so easy to work around the Spartans’ defense.
“They are always so physical, and they weren’t really the last time, but as the year goes on they get more and more physical,” he said. “They are going to body up on you when you have the ball and when you don’t, it’s just the way they play.”
The Spartans are just 7-11 this season, but have won five of their seven games since opening 2012 with a 48-25 loss in Manhattan.
Emporia was knocked around in its first few league games of the new year, losing to Hayden and Highland Park along with MHS, before finally routing Shawnee Heights at home to put things back in the right direction — at least league wise.
The Spartans went outside of league play for the last four games of January, losing to Lawrence before going 1-2 at the Glaciers Edge Tournament in Emporia. Emporia’s only win in the tournament was over Great Bend, which the Indians have defeated twice this season.
Since that tournament, the Spartans are 3-2 in a five-game stretch that included wins over Topeka High, Junction City and Topeka West.
The Indians are in position to host a sub-state game in one of the top four positions in their sub-state. The group of eight teams is currently led by Wichita Heights, while MHS is in line for the No. 2 seed.