Girls basketball struggles through ‘physical’ game

Julianna Poe, Online Editor-in-Chief

Coming into the new season, the Manhattan High Varsity girls basketball team went head-to-head with Topeka High at home, losing 41-63. Despite the loss, the team never gave up.

“Our effort was amazing. Honestly, since being at Manhattan High that’s probably the best game that I’ve played effort-wise with my teammates,” sophomore Maxine Doering said. “I never felt like anyone was really hanging their head or attitudes were bad or anything … I felt really confident throughout the whole game, even though the scoreboard wasn’t always showing that.”

Manhattan High welcomed back senior Grace Dixon and juniors Destiny Yates and Avery Larson as starters. Newcomers sophomore Emery Ruliffson and Doering also made an appearance as starters.

“It was like ‘okay, now I’m a leader. I have to … fulfill this position. I have my responsibilities,’” Ruliffson said. “It was good, but it was like ‘okay, it comes with a lot of work as well,’ but I was ready to take it on.”

Topeka High sank the first score of the night, with a three-pointer from junior Kiki Smith. Manhattan High struggled with turnovers and fouls — seven in the first quarter, — coming off of quarter one 3-12. At the half, the girls trailed 11 points from the Trojans, 14-25.

“We’ve had a problem turning the ball over in practice and that seemed to carry over [during game time],” head coach Scott Mall said. “Early [on] especially we had too many turnovers and you can’t give away offensive possessions like that.”

After a rough first half, MHS came out of the locker room ready to give it their all. At two different times in quarter three, the girls brought the score to a 10-point difference, 20-30 and 24-34, the closest the two teams came during the game. 

“Last year especially, we were really bad out of [the] third quarter, out of halftime. That wasn’t our quarter. Our goal this year was to not have that happen and I feel like that was executed really well [in] this [game],” Doering said. “It’s great when you’re at home [and] the momentum is yours. It sucks when you’re at home, in the moment, and it’s not yours. Unfortunately, we couldn’t withhold that momentum throughout the whole game.”

Unfortunately, quarter four proved the hardest for Manhattan High, with eight fouls and a final score of 41-63, Topeka High leading by 22 points.

“When you’re behind, you have to take some chances,” Mall said. “They were picking up the pace. We had to take some chances on defense, so we gave up some plays. We made some fouls trying to be aggressive and going after the ball.”

Both teams collected several fouls throughout the game, 16 for Manhattan and 17 for Topeka High.

“It was very physical. We know it’s going to be physical,” Mall said. “We have to get used to that. We have to get ready for that.”

For MHS, the players who contributed the most points to the final score were Larson and Dixon, who added 13 and 10 points respectively. For Topeka High, on the other hand, junior Faith Shields, Smith and senior Tae Thomas made notable contributions, with 13, 17 and 21 points respectively.

According to Ruliffson, the team needs to work on taking a step back and reflecting on what is and isn’t working.

“I think we just need to slow it down, figure out what works for us, figure out what doesn’t work and adapt to that,” Ruliffson said, “[and] learn from … each other, which I feel like we do a good job of already but like building on that.”

On Saturday, the girls went against Lawrence in an away game that ended 49-55. The team will hit the road on Friday to play Hayden next.