MHS girls ready for big Blue Jays

By Joel Jellison

Manhattan should remember what happened last season in Junction City.

The MHS girls’ basketball team struggled early and often, and needed a big fourth quarter to force overtime, and eventually win 45-39.

The Indians will be hoping to get it done in regulation on Friday, when they travel to Junction City for a tough game against the rival Blue Jays.

MHS coach Scott Mall said he expects the matchup with the Blue Jays to be similar to the season-opening game against Wichita Sunrise Christian Academy.

“It’s going to be a tough one,” he said. “Junction is a whole different thing, they will be more like Sunrise in that they are so big. Inside, they have a lot of big girls and they do a good job of taking away the other teams inside game, so we’re really going to have to be prepared, and really have to sharpen up a lot of things.”

The key for the Indians will be to get things going from outside of the lane, which has been an issue at times. Aside from the 51 points scored by Mari Jo Massanet in two games this season, Manhattan hasn’t had much luck hitting shots from mid-to-long range.

The Indians got just one 3-pointer in Tuesday’s 56-20 win over Great Bend, and most of the team’s points came from around the basket.

Mall said things could run smoother for them on Friday if they find those longer shots.

“If we can get those good looks from the outside to go in, then that will open up the inside and we can get things going there,” he said.

Last year’s game opened up with Junction City leading 10-7, and then 19-12 by halftime. The team’s matched each other in the third quarter to see the Indians trailing 30-23 going into the fourth.

The Indians outscored the Blue Jays 15-8 in the fourth quarter to force overtime, and held Junction City to one point in overtime to easily win in the extra period.

Massanet led in that game with 13 points, but the Indians also got 12 from Kristen Thompson and 12 from Alix Miller, who has since graduated, giving them an attack from the outside.

Manhattan created scoring opportunities on Tuesday with its pressure defense, and that’s the way it climbed back into the game against the Blue Jays last season.

If the Indians can force turnovers and make Junction City run the court, they could find success and open up the inside and the outside shots.

Mall said the defense on Tuesday was what kept Great Bend from sustaining an offensive attack.

The Blue Jays will make the return trip to Manhattan on Jan. 13.

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