The Manhattan High girls’ basketball team kicked the home portion of its schedule off with a bang Tuesday night, downing Word of Life 86-25 in a game that was never competitive.
The Indians led 18-0 before Word of Life scored at the 3:12 mark of the first quarter, and things didn’t get much easier for the small Christian school out of Wichita. They trailed 44-11 at half and didn’t find any improvement in the final two quarters as Manhattan’s bench players proved just as effective.
All in all, Manhattan used 14 girls in the blowout win, with the starters seeing limited minutes as the bench players made up for the fact that Word of Life didn’t bring a JV team.
“It was nice that they got the chance to play and we got a chance to see what they’re like in an actual game,” head coach Scott Mall said. “There were definitely some things we need to work on with them, but they don’t always get the chance to get out there and do it in a varsity game, so that was good.”
On the flip side, Mall’s starters, who were especially dominant against the Fire, were relegated to the bench for half of the game as the score continued to get out of hand. Perhaps in mid-February, when his team is tired from a long season, this sort of game would offer a nice breather. In the second game of the season, as Mall tries to get a feel for his young and inexperienced team, it’s not ideal.
“You want your normal players to get playing time, because they have to get better,” he said. “But at the same time, you know they’re going against somebody that’s a little easier, and you want to let your other girls get a chance to play. You want to work, play defense, work your offense, you have to balance all that and figure out what you can get the most good out of.
“Somebody might say, ‘Oh, you played your starters too long’, but they’ve got to play. They have to get better.”
Darby Price led all scorers with 20 points on 9-of-17 shooting. Caroline Ballard and Elayna Spilker were also in double figures for the Indians with 15 and 11 points, respectively.
“When we pass the ball well, and got it in good spots, that’s how Caroline and Darby got some good looks, got some rebounds,” Mall said. “We moved the ball, we passed it to people when they were open and made the extra pass to get somebody wide open, and that was really nice. That was a good thing to see.”
For Word of Life, Jonetria Kelly led with 12 points, while Lashae Rolle scored eight. The Fire ended the night with more turnovers (26) than points.
“We need to stop penetration better,” Mall said of his defense. “But I thought we did some good things. It would have been nice to press some more, but there was no need for it early, because that’s something we need to work on.”
Manhattan finished the night shooting 40 percent from the floor, while holding Word of Life to just 25 percent in a game that could have been even more lopsided than the final score.
Looking ahead, No. 10 Manhattan hosts a Dodge City team coming off a season-opening victory at Goddard last Friday. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. on Friday. Mall said.