Manhattan head girls basketball coach Scott Mall knows there are only good teams from here on out.
He wants his team, which holds a No. 2 seed at 21-1, to be relaxed and composed as it heads into the first round of the state tournament, facing No. 7 seed Olathe Northwest (15-7) at 3 p.m. on Thursday.
The Indians’ last trip to the state tournament came in 2015. Two seniors, Gigi McAtee and Kennedy Wilson, were part of that squad, which finished in fourth place. Mall believes their experience will be valuable on his relatively young team.
“It’s a different atmosphere here, so it helps that they’ve been to state before,” he said.
He added that going to a team camp at Wichita State University helped the team get used to Koch Arena.
He said Olathe Northwest has two players, sophomore Sarah Beth Gueldner and senior Sami Marks, who put up big numbers. Gueldner is the Ravens’ leading scorer with 14 points per game, while Marks is a threat from beyond the arc.
“They like to attack the basket with the dribble, then kick and shoot 3s,” Mall said.
He knows his team will have to maintain the strong defense and press it has used all year. Opponents average 34.3 points per game against the Indians, who have given up less than 30 points six times.
“We try to do a press that will work, no matter what team,” he said.
Manhattan is led in scoring by Chrissy Carr, who averages just over 14 points per game. Sophomore forward Kia Wilson also averages in double figures with 10.9 points per game and is the leading rebounder with 6.9 rebounds per game.
However, Carr and Wilson aren’t the only players who consistently contribute. The Indians boast a deep bench, led by Haleigh Harper’s and Taylor Johnson’s 5.4 points per game.
Mall knows the Indians have higher goals than just making it to the state tournament and said they will have to play at a high level for three straight days to keep their season going.
“You’ve got to contain what they do, but you have to be able to do what you do,” he said.