Champions! Manhattan girls survive Derby rally, win state title

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Photo: Maria McIlwain

Lady Indians defeat Derby, 44-42, Saturday afternoon to clinch the school’s first state championship in basketball

A decades-long wait is over, and not a moment too soon. Led by junior guard Chrissy Carr, Manhattan High raced past the Derby Panthers in the first half, then survived a furious Derby rally that saw an 18-point MHS lead evaporate in the final minutes.

Kennedy Wilson hit a layup with 13 seconds left to give her team the 44-42 advantage, and Derby’s three-pointer at the buzzer was no good, completing the transformation from blowout to instant classic at Koch Arena in Wichita.

“These girls said from the summer that they would work every day to get to this game and win it, and they didn’t let anything stop them from doing that,” MHS coach Scott Mall said.

MHS had not appeared in a state championship game in either girls or boys basketball since 1991. The Lady Indians showed no signs of pressure as they jumped out to a 16-point halftime advantage.

But 26 turnovers, many of them in the fourth quarter, left the door open for the Panthers to make a run. MHS led by 18 with 4:14 to go. They would not score again until Kennedy’s game-winner.

“It was a relief,” Mall said. “This is special for me, but it’s about the girls more than anything.”

Carr finished with 14 points, all in the first half, and grabbed 10 rebounds as well. Gigi McAtee added 10 points for the Lady Indians.

MHS finished the season 24-1 and avenged its only loss when the Lady Indians defeated Olathe South in Friday’s semifinal.

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Tyler Dreiling

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