The Manhattan High girls’ basketball team defeated Washburn Rural 43-39 on Friday at Topeka High to advance to the Class 6A tournament next week at Koch Arena.
It was the first time the Indians have made the Class 6A tournament since the 1990-91 season, when the team took second place to Seaman.
MHS coach Scott Mall was a volunteer assistant coach on that team 21 years ago, and he has been a head coach for 16 years.
He said it was something he felt they have been building for all these years.
“It’s something that our girls through the years have built to this point, the last 14 years I think we have just built and built,” he said. “They built up to this moment and these girls took advantage of it and got it done.”
The Indians were trailing by two late in the fourth quarter when they made a 10-0 run to take an 8-point lead and held on to the end.
Senior guard Onyeka Ehie said she her team did what it had done all year in tight situations.
“Words can’t explain how happy I am, for my teammates I’m overjoyed,” he said. “I knew we could do it, and we did. When we were down by three, we didn’t lose focus. We just took our time and came back and I’m so proud of them for that.”
The Indians narrowly missed the state tournament two years ago when they won the Centennial League title, but lost to Washburn Rural in the sub-state final game played at Wichita East.
Mall said the Indians were in line to be a No. 3, 4 or 5 seed, as Wichita Heights (22-0) and Olathe Northwest (21-1) will be the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, respectively.
Manhattan, Olathe South and Maize all shared 20-2 records after winning their sub-state titles on Friday.
Other teams that made the state tournament include Shawnee Mission Northwest (16-6), Wichita South (14-8) and Shawnee Mission South (13-9).