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MHS girls basketball stifles Shawnee Heights in 63-22 win

By Maria McIlwain

There’s nothing routine about a win. Even when you have a bunch of them like the Manhattan High School girls basketball team.

The Indians (7-0, 4-0 Centennial League) knocked off Shawnee Heights (3-4, 0-4 Centennial League), 63-22, at home on Tuesday night.

Manhattan started off strong yet again, this time with a 12-0 run. The only points the Indians allowed in the first period was a 3-pointer by Lydia Ostenson. Ostenson was averaging 20 points per game, and the Indians held her to seven points. She was the T-Birds’ leading scorer, while Faith Rottinghaus and Kam Wells each recorded five points.

“The Ostenson girl is a really good player, so we knew we had to be ready for that,” head coach Scott Mall said.

He added that he was pleased with how his team took away Ostenson’s perimeter shot and guarded her without fouling when she drove toward the basket. 

Mall was pleased with his defense overall, which forced the T-Birds into numerous turnovers. The Indians didn’t allow Shawnee Heights to score more than eight points in a quarter.

“A lot of it’s because I thought we got in good places,” Mall said. “We didn’t get turnovers all the time because they just made a bad play, we got turnovers because we got ourselves in a good spot.”

He was especially happy with the half-court defense.

“We didn’t get a whole lot out of the press, but I thought the half-court defense, the girls really did a good job of anticipating where they were going to go,” Mall said.

But Manhattan had a few turnovers of its own, especially in the second quarter.

“We just made some poor choices a couple times,” Mall said. “Sometimes, we just got in a little bit of a hurry to get out on the break before we really had the ball.”

Mall liked how his team moved the ball against the zone and stayed patient to find the open player.

“This was one of the better jobs, I thought, of swinging the ball on the offensive end and looking for a really good shot out of that,” he said.

The Indians hit five 3-pointers on the night, including two by Taylor Johnson in her first career double-digit performance. The sophomore recorded 10 points and said she likes shooting from beyond the arc.

“I feel like my shot is really consistent, and I just need to keep working on it,” she said.

Mall likes it, too.

“(Johnson is) always very aggressive, and she’s a good shooter,” he said. “She got off to a good start in the JV game shooting the ball, and that really carried over, that confidence.”

Johnson said she had success Tuesday night because she was able to stay focused on the task at hand and it felt good to break the double-figure barrier.

Chrissy Carr also finished in double figures with 16 points to lead the Indians.

Shawnee Heights came out of halftime strong, despite its deficit. The T-Birds grabbed lots of offensive boards but couldn’t take advantage of the second chances.

Kia Wilson had a strong third quarter, scoring seven of her nine points.

“She moved well, and with their defense, it’s hard to get the ball inside … but I thought the girls did a good job of finding her,” Mall said. “I thought our forwards did a really good job of when they got the ball up high, finding the girl underneath.”

Starting the season undefeated has been a lot of fun, Johnson said, but the hard work can’t stop.

“(We) probably just need to push each other in practice, never have a bad practice,” she said.

Mall added that the team is confident but looking toward the future.

“They say all the time, ‘This is not all that we’re preparing for,’” Mall said.

Up next, the Indians travel to Topeka West on Friday.

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