Nearly 30 years ago, Greg Wilson was the fullback on a state championship-winning Manhattan High football team. This winter, his two daughters, Kia and Kennedy, started for the Indians’ girls’ basketball team. They ended the year the way he did: with a state title.
“Pretty amazing,” Greg Wilson said. He said watching his daughters like that was actually a bigger thrill than winning the championship with his own team in 1988.
“To have two daughters on the same team at your alma mater and both contribute, and then to win the game … it’s pretty cool.”
Four players on the MHS girls championship team, in fact, are the daughters of MHS alumni. Senior Chelsey Henry’s mother and father, Kevin and Amy, were in the class of 1989, along with Wilson. Aubrey Downie is the daughter of Dustin Downie, who graduated in 1990.
Another odd connection: Dustin was a freshman pledge in the Kappa Sigma house at K-State who decided, on a whim, to drive down to Emporia to catch the high school girls basketball title game in 1991. That was the last year before this one that the MHS girls went to the finals. That year, they lost to Seaman by one point on a controversial call.
Dustin said he had friends still on that MHS team, but the main reason he went to the game was his fraternity brothers from Seaman were talking smack, and they decided to make a bet and go to watch. Ann Hollingsworth, the star of that MHS team, was called for traveling on a layup at the end of the game, which Dustin said was “the worst officiated game I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Anyway, who knew that MHS would return for the first time to the championship game (and win it) with his own daughter a senior on the roster?
“It’s so emotional to see your own kid win a championship like that for your alma mater,” Dustin said.
A couple of little-known facts about the Manhattan High title team:
Nearly all of the girls on the roster played club basketball growing up on teams coached by Kim McAtee, now an assistant coach for MHS. Kim, who played college basketball at Hutchinson Community College and The University of Akron, is the mother of Gigi and Camy on the MHS roster. Her son, Pierson, just finished his freshman year on the K-State men’s basketball team, after starring at MHS.
Many of the girls have played also on traveling showcase teams coached by Nicole Ohlde, the former K-State women’s star who teaches and coaches in Clay Center now.
Will Spradling, a former K-State point guard, is also an assistant coach for MHS.
The 1990-91 team that went to the finals was coached by Betsy Sloan and Bill Congleton.