Manhattan High girls’ basketball senior Darby Price has been good this year for the Indians, but through three games, had yet to have a complete game.
With 23 points against the Emporia Spartans on Friday, Price was at her best. She finished the night 9 of 12 from the floor and 5 of 6 from the charity stripe, while limiting her fouls and playing solid defense.
“I thought she did a good job,” Manhattan head coach Scott Mall said. “She’s gotten good looks, she just hasn’t been able to put the ball in the hole, but tonight she did — she finished well. And the other girls did a good job of finding her.”
Led by Price, the Indians rebounded from their first loss of the season last weekend to beat Emporia 66-40 in a game that was never close.
From the opening tip, the Indians took control, leading 17-8 after the first quarter and 34-12 by halftime before playing mostly even the rest of the way for the comfortable win.
Joining Price with double-figure scoring efforts were Caroline Ballard with 15 points and Savannah Roberts with 12.
While Ballard is often a top scorer for the Indians, it was a breakout game for Roberts, who did some of the best work of her varsity career, finishing 6 of 8 from the floor.
“She did a good job,” Mall said. “Defensively, we put her on a tough, physical girl and she did a really good job there. Then offensively, she had a couple of nice shots — she did a really nice job of going to the offensive boards and getting rebounds.”
Emporia tried to make it a game in the third quarter, changing its defensive look and getting six turnovers from MHS, but couldn’t turn those mistakes into points on the other end. The Spartans would get no closer than 19 in the second half.
“They went to more of a zone look, and we forced the ball a little bit, got in too much of a hurry instead of working and trying to get the best shot, we tried to force some things to happen,” Mall said. “And they were aggressive once we got the ball inside.”
For Emporia, the shots just weren’t falling in the face of Manhattan’s stiff defense. The Spartans finished the night shooting just 15 of 47 from the floor, including a 5 of 20 mark from beyond the arc.
Whitney Wilhite led Emporia with 13 points, while Kayna Hastings had 11.
The Indians finished 26 of 57 and 10 of 12 from the charity stripe.
For Price, the scoring was evenly distributed through all four quarters, with nine in the opening quarter to set the tone. Price said ball movement was the key.
“We all saw the open player and moved it around,” Price said, “which opened things up inside.”
Staying on the floor hasn’t always been easy for Price because of fouls. In the season opener against Derby, she played extremely limited minutes and nearly fouled out.
“I know the rules have changed a little bit,” Price said. “I’m aggressive, so I like to get out on my player, and when they changed the rules, that first game I almost fouled out. So it’s an eye-opener — I’ve got to stay off and move my feet.”
With nearly three weeks until Manhattan’s next game, Mall said the Indians have plenty to work on.
“There’s so many things right now,” Mall said. “We did a good job on defensive rebounds, but that’s something we need to work on all the time. I still think we need to work on our offensive execution. We can shoot the ball better than we have — we shot it good tonight — but we can shoot it better. We just need to keep working and see where everybody fits in to get the best look every time.”
Manhattan travels to Washburn Rural on Jan. 7.