LAWRENCE — A strong offensive first quarter and a lockdown second half were not enough for Manhattan High girls' basketball to knock off Lawrence Saturday afternoon, as the Indians fell 55-49.
Manhattan scored just three points in the first quarter in its season-opening loss to Topeka on Friday. Less than 24 hours later, junior guard Avery Larson topped that in the first couple minutes of the game.
Larson had 13 of her career-high 15 points in the first quarter, powered by three made shots from behind the arc.
“She can do that,” MHS head coach Scott Mall said. “She shot a couple that were off, and she came right back and hit another one. It’s one of the things we look for is her getting those shots. She can hit those shots, but sometimes we put a lot of pressure on her to have to hit those shots so we can get something going.”
Another thing that gave Manhattan High life early in the game was its tenacious rebounding effort. The Indians were bullied by Topeka High on the rebounding front just a day before, but on Saturday, Mall saw the hustle and the effort from all of his players that wasn’t quite there Friday.
“We had like 10 offensive boards in the first half, which was great,” Mall said. “Our guards got in and helped, I remember Destiny and Emery getting in there, but Maxine and Saylor are both really good at getting to the offensive boards and putting some pressure on the defense.”
The Indians (0-2) held a 17-15 advantage after a quarter, but a 20-point second quarter from Lawrence gave the host Lions a 35-31 advantage heading into halftime.
Defensively, Mall knew things needed to be tightened up. Manhattan doesn’t have the firepower to get into a high-scoring shootout, especially against a team like Lawrence (1-0) that’s so solid defensively.
The adjustments worked. Manhattan held the Lions to 11 points in the third quarter — a total it matched to keep the deficit at four — and nine in the fourth quarter.
“In the second half, we made some adjustments defensively to stop their break and stuff like that, and I thought the girls did a great job,” Mall said. “It seems like the score was 46-42 forever, and we had some good looks, but we couldn’t get a shot to go down. But we were getting stops on the other end.”
The only problem was the offense. After the Indians' first-quarter explosion, Manhattan just could not get the buckets it needed to fall.
“In the first half, we got a lot of nice shots from people who are good shooters,” Mall said. “And then (in the second half) we got more good shots, but we just didn’t get them in the basket. They were good shots — shots we’ll take any day. We just need to make them. And then we tried to run some plays late and just turned the ball over. We were trying too hard to make something happen.”
Manhattan’s defense kept things within its grasp for as long as it could, but a 3 from Lawrence’s Lucy Hardy with 3:40 to play gave the Lions the cushion they needed to ride out the rest of the game.
The Indians attempted a press in the final three minutes to try and get themselves back in it, but it didn't provide enough of a spark.
Manhattan will try to snap its two-game skid to open the season on Friday, when it travels to play a Hayden team that opens its season at Highland Park on Tuesday. Mall hopes the improvement his team already has shown will continue — and eventually turn into wins.
“It is (a little bit encouraging) and it isn’t,” Mall said of the improvement between Games 1 and 2. “In the second half, we really did play better defensively, and we got the shot we wanted, but these girls want success and I’m wanting them to be successful, because they’ve worked hard enough to earn it. It’s disappointing that we couldn’t get over the hump. I think we were better than we were versus Topeka High, but we need to take this next week to get better and get ready for Hayden.”
MANHATTAN 49, LAWRENCE 55
2pt-3pt-FTs Total Points
Totals: 11-6-14 55
Layla Harjo 2-3-0 11, Amaya Marshall 1-2-2 10, Geme Ajekwu 4-0-1 9, Serenity Keo 2-0-5 9, Lucy Hardy 1-1-3 8, Daphne Bracker Strum 1-0-3, Brynnae Johnson 1-0-0 2.
Totals: 14-4-9 49 points
Avery Larson 3-3-0 15, Maxine Doering 4-0-1 9, Emery Ruliffson 3-0-1 7, Grace Dixon 1-0-5, Destiny Yates 2-0-2 6, Ally Ingram 0-1-0 3, Saylor Salmans 0-1-0 2.
Three point field goals made: Lawrence 6 (Harjo 3 Marshall 2, Hardy), Manhattan 4 (Larson 3, Ingram).