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MHS girls basketball opens Centennial League play with win over Junction City

By Maria McIlwain

Friday’s matchup between Manhattan and Junction City had all the trappings of an intense rivalry game.

There was aggressive play on both sides and an electric crowd throughout.

But the score wasn’t very close.

Manhattan (4-0, 1-0, Centennial League) dominated Junction City, 70-30, in a game where three Indians finished in double figures. Chrissy Carr led all scorers with 16 points, and Kia Wilson and Garrin Williams each recorded 11. Ally McKenzie was the only Junction City player in double figures with 10 points.

“We played better than we have all season,” Wilson said.

She added that the crowd helped them maintain high-energy play throughout the game.

“I thought we did a good job of keeping our intensity up,” head coach Scott Mall said. “We talked about it at halftime about not backing off because where we were at wasn’t good enough, we wanted to keep going. And I thought the girls did a good job with that.”

Mall thought Williams played well especially since she was matched up with Junction City’s point guard.

“She did a really good job on defense,” Mall said. “She had to guard their point guard and really did an outstanding job, and then she attacked the basket really well.”

Carr drew first blood with a layup just five seconds in, and Junction responded.

That was about all the Blue Jays got in the first quarter.

Gigi McAtee intercepted a Junction City pass and forwarded the ball to Carr, who buried a 3-pointer. That sparked a 13-0 run for Manhattan that lasted the rest of the opening frame.

The Indians got into foul trouble in the second quarter, as McAtee, who had amassed three fouls, had to sit. Mall was expecting that, though, because of how physical Junction City — and the rest of the Centennial League — play.

“Junction City’s a very physical team, and I thought we did a good job of matching that and being aggressive,” Mall said.

However, he wants to make sure his team is committing smart fouls.

“I thought there was a couple times where we really didn’t need to get a foul,” Mall said. “That’s going to happen, but especially when you’ve got some key girls getting in foul trouble early, you’d like to avoid picking up one they don’t need.”

The Indians’ defense was solid in the second half, holding the Blue Jays to just 15 points. Mall said he liked the defense for much of the game. Manhattan forced 26 Blue Jay turnovers.

“Our girls are good, smart girls (who) are pretty athletic, so we press a lot and we play a lot of man,” Mall said. “The girls are really getting pretty good at applying pressure and playing off the ball.

“We did a better job of cutting off their drives than I thought we might because that’s one of their strengths, and we rebounded really well.”

Manhattan outrebounded Junction City, 49-25, including 20 offensive boards.

“We’ve been working on boxing out, so I think that really helped,” Wilson said.

The Indians’ game at Dodge City scheduled for Saturday was postponed because of weather, so their next game is against Topeka High on Jan. 3.

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