Manhattan coach Scott Mall still thought his team had a chance.
“All we had to do was make a couple of offensive plays,” Mall said.
His Manhattan High group never faced a deficit fewer than nine in the fourth quarter of its 49-37 home loss to Washburn Rural Thursday night, but Mall felt the Indians were still in it late into the contest.
Yet the Junior Blues, ranked No. 2 in Class 6A in the latest Kansas Basketball Coaches Associated poll, put things away at the free throw line, going 9-for-15 at the stripe in the final period to ice the game.
Even when they did miss, though, the visitors snared a number of offensive rebounds and kept possessions alive.
Then they shot more free throws and separated themselves even further.
“We gave them too many looks,” Mall said. “Late, we gave them an extra one on a free throw, which you hate to give up.”
Manhattan (5-2, 3-1 Centennial), the No. 6 team in Class 6A, had trouble all night with Washburn Rural senior Carly Bachelor, who finished with a game-high 25 points. The Creighton commit was a threat both inside and outside, grabbing rebounds around the basket and knocking down shots farther away from it.
“She’s a really good player,” Mall said. “She can do a lot of things. She’s one we wanted to keep off the free throw line, because she scores, like, 9 points a game on free throws. She puts a lot of pressure on you. She goes to the basket, and it’s hard to avoid fouling her. We fouled her sometimes, just trying to make plays.”
Instead, Rural shot 22-for-31 on free throws; Bachelor made 12 of 14 on her own. For most of the night, Bachelor was matched up against Manhattan senior Kia Wilson, who recorded 12 points, as did fellow Manhattan senior Haleigh Harper.
Wilson and Harper did a sizeable amount of damage in the final stages — the two combined for 10 points in the fourth stanza — but it wasn’t enough to mount a comeback.
“They did a good job of taking some stuff away from us with their defense,” Mall said. “Offensively, we struggled with that. We wanted to keep them off the free throw line, and in the first half, that was a big difference. I think they scored half their points on free throws in the first half. We didn’t do a good job there.”
Manhattan has the rest of the calendar year off before returning Jan. 4, facing Topeka High on the road.
WASHBURN RURAL 49
Washburn Rural (49)
Totals: 12-34 FG, 22-31 FT, 49 points
Emma Krueger 0-2 5-8 5, Bachelor 5-14 12-14 25, Shelby Ebert 0-3 0-2 0, Kasey Hamilton 3-9 5-7 11, Lakhota Conklin 2-5 0-0 6, Shelbey Wichman 1-1 0-0 2
Totals: 13-47 FG, 7-11 FT, 37 points
Jaiden Weixelman 0-2 0-0 0, Garrin Williams 1-4 0-0 3, Haleigh Harper 4-14 3-5 12, Aloera Ostermann 2-8 0-0 5, Kia Wilson 4-11 4-6 12, Taylor Johnson 2-5 0-0 5
Three-point field goals: Washburn Rural 3 (Conklin 2, Bachelor), Manhattan 4 (Williams, Harper, A. Ostermann, Johnson). Fouled out: None. Turnovers: Washburn Rural 11, Manhattan 13.