MHS draws Valley Center in tourney

By Grant Guggisberg

This week at the Mid-America Classic in McPherson, the Manhattan High girls’ basketball team will be in a similar spot as the boys’ team last week.

Just like the boys’ team, the Indians earned the No. 4 seed in the tournament, giving them the most balanced matchup, at least on paper, of any first-round game of the tournament.

The Indians drew fifth-seeded Valley Center (6-3) in the tournament opener — the only opening-round game featuring two teams with winning records. The seeding also puts Manhattan on track to face undefeated and top-seeded Andale (10-0) should they advance in the semifinals on Friday.

“It’s going to be a tough tournament,” head coach Scott Mall said. “Valley Center, who we play first, has pretty much the same record as us and they have a very experienced team that’s played really well this year.”

Also in the field are second-seeded Olathe South (9-0), third-seeded McPherson (8-2), with sixth-seeded Hays (5-5). Seventh-seeded Dodge City (2-6) and eighth-seeded Wichita Southeast (2-7).

Despite earning the No. 2 seed, Olathe South is the favorite to win it all, ranked No. 1 in the Class 6A rankings this week and looking to stay undefeated on the season. Andale, ranked ninth in Class 4A, earned the top seed with an extra tally in the win column, but hasn’t played the same strength of schedule that Olathe South has, primarily defeating smaller schools.

Mall said regardless of where his team lands after facing Valley Center, the road will be difficult.

“No matter which way you go after (the opening game), there are tough teams down the lineup,” he said. “The top six teams all have very good records, so it’ll be a tough tournament.”

Prior to this week’s tournament, Manhattan completed the regular season sweep of Emporia, winning 40-30 at home last Friday. After beating the Spartans, Mall said winning that game helps tremendously in the preparation.

“That’s why this is such a big win for us, going into the tournament,” he said. “It’s always nice to have those three days to work coming off a win and not a loss.”

Manhattan will open the tournament against Valley Center in the 3 p.m. time slot. Should it win, it would play on Friday at 6 p.m. A loss would put MHS back in the 3 p.m. slot.

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