TOPEKA — Onyeka Ehie kept Manhattan in the game in the first half on Tuesday at Highland Park.
And in the second half, the rest of the Manhattan High girls’ team finished off the Scots in a 49-31 win as it prepares to play in the Mid America Classic in McPherson next week.
Ehie scored 13 points — all in the first half — and knocked down four 3-pointers, while Mari Jo Massanet built upon her seven first-half points to finish with 18.
It wasn’t easy for Massanet though, as Highland Park stuck 6-foot-1 Shanise Brooks and 5-10 Shanae Tolbert on her all night in the paint.
MHS coach Scott Mall said the play from Ehie in the first half was big for that reason.
“They are so big inside and they were playing that zone so it was hard for Mari Jo to score, and Darby (Price) was open, but it was too hard to get her the ball past the tall girls,” he said. “(Ehie) really stepped up. That’s what she is capable of, she just stepped up and put the ball in the hole.”
The big key for Mall though, was the blue collar type style his team was playing for, going after every loose ball and fighting for every rebound, making the Scots earn their points.
“We weren’t pretty by any means, and it was kind of an ugly game,” he said. “But our girls, even when we had stretches where we made mistakes, they battled through it, picked up loose balls and then that stretch in the second half where we scored some points when it was getting iffy, a lot of those were hustle plays and hard work plays.”
The Indians were leading by six points when the second half opened, thanks to a 3-pointer at the end of the first from Ehie that widened the gap just before time expired. Highland Park went on a quick 4-1 run at the start of the third quarter, but then it was done scoring for awhile.
Massanet, Price and Jenna Crusinberry led a 9-0 run to end the third period and give Manhattan a 33-21 lead.
The Indians would make just two baskets from the field in the fourth quarter, but shot 12-for-20 at the free throw line and outscored the Scots 16-10 to close the game out. The period also included another 9-0 run from the Indians.
Mall was pleased with the number of players that contributed to the win in some way.
“We got it done, and some of those stretches in the second half, it was different girls scoring baskets at big times,” he said. “(Highland Park) moves well on the inside and it was tough on Mari Jo, but we are getting to a point where we are getting more and more of the girls involved and finding out what they can do to have an impact.”
Massanet looked to carry the Indians early, battling on the inside and getting to the line to make four free throws in the first two-and-a-half minutes. Elayna Spilker scored the first field goal of the game with 4:22 to play to make it 6-0 Manhattan.
Devyn Edwards scored the first points for the Scots with a 3-pointer that cut the lead to three points, but Ehie made her first 3-pointer of the game and Massanet added a free throw to extend the lead to 10-3.
Highland Park used a 5-0 run to pull within two points before Crusinberry was fouled on a 3-point attempt and made one free throw to give MHS an 11-8 lead after one quarter.
Ehie made her second 3-pointer to open the second quarter, and Massanet knocked down a pair of free throws to extend the lead to 16-8. A 7-0 run from the Scots brought them with one point of the lead, but Ehie hit a 3 and made a free throw in the next possession to push the lead out to 20-15.
Edwards made two free throws with 48 seconds left in the first half, and Ehie made her fourth 3-pointer of the half with three seconds left to put MHS ahead 23-17.
MANHATTAN 49, HIGHLAND PARK 31
Manhattan 11 12 10 16 — 49
Highland Park 8 9 4 10 — 31
MANHATTAN (49) — Massanet 18, Ehie 13, Price 6, McNair 4, Crusinberry 3, Spilker 3, Thompson 1.
HIGHLAND PARK (31) — Edwards 15, Brooks 7, Talbert 7, Thomas 2.
3-pointers — Manhattan 4 (Ehie 4). Highland Park 3 (Edwards 3).