Girls basketball brings total losses to two

Julianna Poe, Trending Editor

By a margin of 28 points, the Manhattan High Varsity girls basketball team fell for the second time this season against first-seeded team Topeka High, going 63-35.

“[We struggle with] having more intensity once we step out on the court,” sophomore Destiny Yates said. “[We need to continue] believing and counting on one another. Also, not letting our negative emotions affect how we play individually and as a team.”

Just one week earlier, the girls lost by 38 points to Washburn Rural with a score of 69-31.

“I think we all feel that they were tough losses, but we’re looking at it as a learning opportunity,” senior Gillain Awbrey said. “[We] know we have things we can work on to get better and get the next one.”

Despite these losses and the absence of two senior starters — Taylor Claussen and Awbrey — in the first two games due to quarantining, the team picked up a huge win between the Washburn Rural and Topeka High games. Leading by 41 points, Manhattan High beat Highland Park at home 65-24.

“It feels great to know that we bounced back … from such a big loss and [can] turn around and do the same thing to another team,” Yates said. “We just have to keep moving forward because we know there are more teams we have to defeat that we haven’t played yet.”

Going into Tuesday night’s game against Topeka High, both senior starters had returned. Unfortunately, getting back into the swing of things took some time, as MHS collected only the first two points of the game in the first quarter, while Topeka High collected 18.

“I think we just came out uncontrolled and I think some of that could’ve [come] from nerves,” Awbrey said. “Also, I think we did have some good looks, but things weren’t going in.”

Not until the Trojans had put up 26 consecutive points dipping into the second quarter did Manhattan High increase their score. The girls altogether collected 16 points to Topeka High’s 14 more in quarter two, bringing their opponent’s lead down from 24 points to 14 points at the half. According to head coach Scott Mall, this success was from “beating the press for layups.”

“We made some adjustments and the girls really did a good job of getting the ball to the right place,” Mall said. “We got some advantages and got some really good looks off the press … To outscore Topeka High in that quarter was a really big lift going into halftime.”

The last half proved difficult as sophomore Kiki Smith and senior Jae’Mya Lyons from Topeka High continued to put in more points, individually totaling 21 and 12 points respectively by the end of the game. At the game buzzer, Topeka High collected their 30th consecutive win going 63-35 and bringing their average points per game to 72.

“We played two really good teams, Washburn Rural and Topeka High, and we have to learn from playing those what we have to do to be successful against those teams,” Mall said. “We found something that worked really [well] for us against Topeka West, but they’re not the caliber of teams that’s Topeka High and Washburn Rural.”

The girls will be back on the court this weekend at the McPherson Tournament in a three-day competition. On Thursday the team will play against Wichita Southeast and on Friday against Dodge City. Saturday’s matchup will be determined by the outcome of those games.

“It’s just a matter of learning,” Mall said. “We’re still a pretty new bunch. We don’t have very many girls with experience from last year. We’re still trying to learn where we’re at, but we just need to keep getting better.”