The Manhattan High girls’ basketball started strong and held on at the end to advance in the opening-round game of the Mid-America Classic in McPherson on Thursday, beating Valley Center 48-44 to advance to the semifinals.
Caroline Ballard scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds, while Kristen Thompson scored 13 to lead the way for the Indians, who advance to play top-seeded Andale (11-0) today at 6 p.m.
Valley Center was led by Meagan Williams’ 19 points and seven rebounds.
For Manhattan (9-2), Thursday’s game ended similarly to last year’s opener in the Mid-America Classic, with Hays rallying at the end to force overtime and sending the Indians into the consolation bracket, where they would eventually earn fifth place.
Valley Center (6-4) had trailed 45-42 in the final minutes, with a chance to tie the game, but this year the Manhattan defense got the stops it needed, holding back Valley Center and knocking down just enough free throws to advance.
The Indians took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter before the Hornets got on the scoreboard, taking a 9-6 lead into the second quarter. From there, Manhattan’s lead grew to 13 points before Valley Center closed the gap to nine at halftime.
In the third quarter, it was a game of runs, as Manhattan took a 31-17 lead only to allow a 10-0 run to Valley Center to cut the lead to four. In the fourth quarter, both teams went back and forth, with Manhattan holding on to its three-point lead in the final minute, forcing Valley Center to try and extend the game. Manhattan missed four free throws in the final minute to keep things interesting, but Valley Center was unable to score again until the final buzzer.