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MHS girls basketball overpowers Topeka High

By Maria McIlwain

The first game after winter break can feel like the first game of the season.

The Manhattan girls basketball team (5-0, 2-0) didn’t miss a beat.

The Indians defeated Topeka High, 69-30, at home on Tuesday night. The 30 points was the fewest the Trojans recorded all season.

“We have some girls who are athletic, and they’re smart,” head coach Scott Mall said. “They do what they’re supposed to do. They got in good spots, and we got our hands on a lot of balls, and that made it play out for us.”

Topeka High scored the first basket, but it was all Manhattan from there.

The Indians went on a 20-1 run over much of the opening quarter and led the Trojans, 20-3, at the first buzzer. They spread the scoring around with seven players recording buckets.

Much of the Indians’ success was thanks to stiff defense, and they recorded six steals in the first period alone. Gigi McAtee recorded six steals on the night to lead the Indians. She also recorded 10 points, her first double-digit scoring effort of the season.

But she didn’t take all the credit.

“It takes a team effort to get those steals,” McAtee said. “I know a lot of girls out there got steals, and I’m very happy with how our defense is right now.”

As for scoring, the senior point guard said it’s important to get the ball to whoever is hot.

“We have a lot of girls who can score, and we know every game not everyone can score like that,” McAtee said. “So we all just have to take our turns, and whoever’s on, they’re on.”

Manhattan extended its lead in the second quarter, thanks to Chrissy Carr. The junior recorded nine points in the period and finished with 18, leading all scorers. Kennedy Wilson also had a strong showing with six of her eight points in the period.

“(Carr) actually did a good job of going to the basket tonight,” Mall said. “She actually didn’t shoot the ball from the outside as well as she had from other games. She was able to make some things happen going to the basket and some defensive plays.”

After halftime, Mall thought the Indians’ intensity dropped a bit. Manhattan started slow but pulled ahead thanks to an 11-2 run. The Indians’ lead grew as high as 40 after back to back steals and layups by Taylor Johnson and Haleigh Harper and another layup by Johnson. Manhattan only recorded five points in the fourth quarter, as Mall gave many of his reserves some minutes.

Mall was pleased with how his bench performed. Harper totaled eight points, while Josie Hilgers pulled down seven rebounds.

“Haleigh Harper gave us a great lift off the bench,” he said.

Corieann Emanuel was the only Topeka High player in double figures with 10 points, and Rylee Burris chipped in seven. Erica Birch, the Trojans’ 6-foot-2 senior center didn’t come alive until the fourth quarter, when she recorded six points, four of them on free throws.

“We got a lot of deflections, a lot of steals,” Mall said. “We did a good job on the boards, got some offensive rebounds, and those are things we really look for.”

Burris and Emanuel hit the only two 3-pointers for Topeka on the night.

Manhattan didn’t score from beyond the arc. The Indians’ only 3-point plays came on and-1s.

“Usually, we’ve been shooting better than that,” Mall said. “Tonight, I thought we got some good looks. I thought we rushed some of them after the first bit, but early, I thought we got some good looks; it just didn’t go in.”

Manhattan returns to action Friday night at Highland Park.

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