Disappointment: Girls’ comeback falls short

Jacob Clanton, Print Editor-in-Chief

Shoot and miss. Shoot and miss.

“Everyone was getting the same shots that we got all year,” senior Megan Worthington said. “We just couldn’t finish, which is something that’s just out of our hands, shots just weren’t falling.”

With each missed basket from Manhattan High (20-3), Washburn Rural (19-4) grew its lead. Though Manhattan began to hit shots, it was not enough, as Washburn ended MHS’ season with a 53-40 win in the state quarterfinals.

The Indians came out of the gate strong, jumping to an early 2-0 lead. It would be their only lead of the game, as Washburn went on a 18-0 run that spanned a quarter-and-a-half.

“They’re so good that if you have to help somewhere,” head coach Scott Mall said, “they’re good at reversing the ball and getting somebody a wide-open shot, and they hit all their shots early, and they have good shooters.”

Manhattan’s problem was its shooting. The Indians went just 3-for-23 from the floor in the first half, not hitting a field goal until midway through the second quarter.

“We had some good inside shots,” Mall said. “We had like three or four times we got shots under the basket with nobody there and couldn’t get them to roll in, had good mid-range shots, some good outside shots that we usually hit a good percentage of. Heck, we had good 3-point shooters shooting airballs in the first half, we’ve never done that all year.”

The missing baskets caused Manhattan to hurry up, giving MHS more problems.

“We do that a little bit when we struggle,” Mall said. “We get in little bit more of a hurry, it’s like, ‘I didn’t make it, I may need to shoot sooner.’ Well, that never works out, but we just stayed tight that whole first half.”

Manhattan regrouped in the beginning of the second half, opening on a 6-0 run.

“We tend to do a good job of like rallying together and getting in our little huddles on the court,” Worthington said, “or listening to Coach Mall and trying to just regather, which I think we did a really good job of that in the second half.”

The Junior Blues stormed back, negating any MHS momentum and keeping Manhattan at an arm’s length for most of the second half. With a minute left, Worthington and senior Chrissy Carr hit back-to-back 3-pointers, cutting the lead to just 10.

“That’s one of the things where if you coach long enough,” Mall said, “you have games where you’ve pulled one out. I’ve been down by nine, 10 points with a minute to go and won before, so we had a chance.”

Luck was not on Manhattan’s side though, as Washburn iced the game from the line.

“They hit free throws,” Mall said. “[Junior Carly] Bachelor, who had struggled at the free throw line last time we played, did a good job of hitting free throws when we fouled her.”

The loss was just the fourth for Worthington and Carr, who both moved to Manhattan High last year.
“All I’m accustomed to since I’ve moved here is success,” Worthington said, “so it’s really difficult to see everyone dealing with a loss. I mean, I came from a school where we won one game my freshman year, so like it’s sort of just a different perspective coming from that to success.”

MHS’ loss also ended its chances to repeat as state champions. However, Mall was still proud of how the season ended up.

“I told the girls,” Mall said, “I’m really proud that they got here because the odds are stacked against you when you had the year [we did last year]. We graduated some good players, everybody’s pointing at you for having the season you had. I thought our senior girls, all the way down the line, did a good job of leading us to this point and keeping us on track, because every year, there’s more pressure. I thought the girls did a good job of staying focused and giving ourselves a chance.”