Girls basketball head coach Scott Mall achieves 400th career win

Julianna Poe, Trending Editor

Two snow days couldn’t stop the Manhattan High Varsity girls basketball team from competing against two out of three scheduled opponents. Last week consisted of a cancelled game against Highland Park, head coach Scott Mall’s 400th career win in a rescheduled game against Seaman and a loss to Washburn Rural.

About a month ago, the team hit a rough patch with only one win and five losses for several weeks. Recently, the girls have turned this around.

“Over the last couple games we’ve taken care of the ball better,” Mall said. “We’ve had a problem sometimes with turning it over too many times and then we don’t get a chance to score.”

On Wednesday, the girls gained an early lead switch on Seaman that they kept for the duration of the game. Some highlights included two three-pointers from freshman Emery Rullifsan and sophomore Destiny Yates making seven out of eight free throws.

“Emery came in and hit two three point shots, which are her first three pointers of the season,” Mall said. “We’ve been kind of almost stagnant on offense, but that really gave us a lift.”

At the buzzer, the team made Mall’s 400th win with a score of 44-35.

“It’s not really something I think of too often,” Mall said. “If you’ve been coaching a lot of years you’re going to hopefully accumulate some. It’s more [about how] this was a big win for the girls. We really needed a win at this time and they battled really hard and did a good job.”

Friday’s game against Washburn Rural kept viewers on the edge of their seats, with four lead changes and three ties in the first half. Manhattan High put in three consecutive three pointers — one each from senior Taylor Claussen, sophomore Avery Larson and Yates — in quarter one, leading 10-9 going into quarter two. Washburn Rural turned around and collected three three-pointers in quarter two, leading 23-20 at the half.

“It felt really good keeping up with Washburn Rural,” senior Gillian Awbrey said. “We talked a lot before the game about a positive and determined mentality going into this game, and I really do think that helped us put up a good fight.”

In quarter three, the Junior Blues collected 13 points to Manhattan’s four. Early in quarter four, Manhattan High trailed by 19 points. The girls then turned things around and brought WR’s lead down to just 10. Larson contributed greatly throughout the game, collecting 18 total points and making up 47% of the team’s final score. Manhattan ultimately lost by 14 points — nearly a third of their last loss against the Junior Blues by 38-points — going 52-38.

“I think we made a point to try to take away some of their strengths as a team,” Awbrey said. “Our team also came into the game knowing we can play with them, and I think that mindset helped us play a lot better.”

The Washburn Rural game also marked the senior players last home game as well as celebrated senior night.

“It was sad knowing that was the last time we would play on that court,” senior Maddy Kuntz said, “but overall it was a fun night.”

Manhattan High will hit the road Tuesday to play Seaman again for the second time in a week. The girls will also go head-to-head with Hayden away on Thursday.