With the Manhattan High girls’ basketball team’s win over Hayden on Tuesday, the Indians took a three-game lead over the Wildcats and Seaman, with just three games left.
With a win over Shawnee Heights on Friday, the Indians can officially call themselves the outright Centennial League champions for the second time in the past three years.
Playing in a decade that has often been dominated by Washburn Rural, the Indians have been one of the teams to beat in the past few years, including the 2009-10 season that saw the team win a league crown.
In that season, the team clinched a share of the title before going on the road against second-place Emporia to decide the champ once and for all in the final game of the season. The Indians needed a last-second basket to win.
This time around, Manhattan has a chance to wrap up the title at home when it hosts the Thunderbirds.
Mall admitted it would be nice for the school to be able to celebrate it at home, but said his team is still focused on winning each of its final three games before sub-state.
If they do win, he said they would be able to put it behind them as they focus on the remainder of the season.
“If we can get that done, that would be nice to sit down after that game and know that we got that accomplished,” Mall said. “It’s just hard to look at that, it’s one of those things that you look at after the season and say, ‘wow that was some accomplishment.’”
The Indians (15-2, 10-0) didn’t play particularly well against Shawnee Heights when they last played on Jan. 6, just the second road game of the season for MHS.
Manhattan needed offensive rebounds and put-back shots off missed free throws in the final minute to win 42-38.
Mall said the T-Birds can be dangerous — just as many other teams in the league have shown.
“They’ve got a lot of shooters and they are a whole lot better when they can stay completely healthy, and they are good on the interior at defense,” he said. “Our league has kind of gone a way that you better be ready to play and give it your best shot.”
Mall said this time around they will have to focus on slowing down Danielle Poblarp, who kept the T-Birds in the game and led them in scoring.
“That was another game that we didn’t shoot the ball well, but one thing that hurt us was the Poblarp girl,” he said. “They did a lot of things with her and she got some shots and got to the basket and made some things happen. So that’s the one thing to try and do a better job against what they do on offense.”
The Indians will continue their season with road games at Emporia and Topeka High next week.