Van Kirk Drives

Manhattan Christian's Kiersten Van Kirk drives the lane on a shot attempt against Gardiner Friday night.

CHURCHILL — It seemed hard to believe considering the ease that they were running the floor Friday night. But Manhattan Christian committed 29 turnovers in the Memorial Event Center.

It did little to derail the effort, however, as the Eagles pulled away in the second half en route to beating Gardiner 72-46 in a District 11C clash.

“I thought the girls actually played really well besides a stretch in the second quarter where we turned it over and fouled a little bit too much,” second-year Christian coach Jeff Bellach said. “We got a little out of sorts. We had 19 at half and I think we had 11 or so in that little stretch in the second quarter, so you take that away and it actually wasn’t terrible.”

The Eagles took a 16-8 lead into the second quarter after freshman Grace Aamot buried a 3 before the buzzer. Then they survived a mistake-prone second quarter to take a 33-22 lead into halftime.

Eliana Kuperus and Kiersten Van Kirk combined for 12 of the team’s 21 points in the third quarter and often scored on fast break opportunities to stretch the lead to 20.

Thompson Shoots

Manhattan Christian's Rylie Thompson gets off a shot between a pair of Gardiner defenders Friday night.

“It was a good night for Kiersten and Eli again just running the floor and I thought we did a good job finding them out ahead,” said Bellach.

Van Kirk finished with a game-high 17 points and seven rebounds, while Kuperus added 10 points and seven boards. The duo were joined in double figures by Rylie Thompson, who chipped in with 12.

Maddie Liudahl and Thompson were honored prior to the contest on senior-parent night.

“Maddie and Rylie each had good nights for seniors, so that fun,” said Bellach. “And our depth is something that’s going to be special going forward. That’s going to be a strong point having that depth.”

Eleven Eagles played in the game and nine scored. Bellach also noted that junior Anna Keith may be back for the postseason following a knee injury.

Christian (16-2) finished a perfect 10-0 in league play and earned the No. 1 seed and a first round bye at the district tournament, which it hosts Feb. 20-22.

“I thought the girls played well tonight, it was a good game,” said Bellach. “Missed a few free throws again, but overall good effort.”

The Eagles extended their win streak to eight heading into the postseason with a 51-48 victory at Class B Whitehall on Saturday.

Van Kirk again led the charge with a game-high 18 points and seven rebounds, while Kuperus tallied a double-double with 14 points and 13 boards. Aamot and Liudahl each added six points.

Manhattan Christian 72, Gardiner 46

Gardiner                    8   14  12  12  -  46

Christian                   16  17  21  18  -  72

GARDINER (10-6) - Maya Kowski 0 0-0 0, Leah Veress 4 0-1 9, Alexis McDonald 2 2-2 8, Kyndra Long 2 1-5 5, Bailey Fuhrmann 4 0-3 8, Chase Cunningham 1 0-0 2, Miya Ross 0 0-2 0, Josie Thomas 4 1-2 10, Izzy Rodman 0 0-0 0, Kayla Foster 0 0-0 0, Emily Potts 0 0-0 0, Sophia Darr 1 2-4 4. Totals: 18 6-19 46.

MANHATTAN CHRISTIAN (15-2) - Taylor DeVries 1 0-0 3, Hope Kenney 4 0-1 9, Grace Aamot 1 0-0 3, Eliana Kuperus 5 0-0 10, Kiersten Van Kirk 7 3-4 17, Maddie Liudahl 3 2-7 9, Ava Bellach 0 0-0 0, Rylie Thompson 5 2-3 12, Natalie Walhof 1 1-3 3, Jayden VanDyken 0 0-0 0, Hailey VanDyken 3 0-0 6. Totals: 30 8-18 72.

3-point goals: Gar 4 (McDonald 2, Veress 1, Thomas 1), MC 4 (DeVries 1, Kenney 1, Aamot 1, Liudahl 1).

Manhattan Christian 51, Whitehall 48

Christian                     19  9  13  10  -  51

Whitehall                   13  12  14  9  -  48

MANHATTAN CHRISTIAN (16-2) - Taylor DeVries 1 0-0 3, Hope Kenney 0 0-0 0, Grace Aamot 2 2-3 6, Eliana Kuperus 7 0-3 14, Kiersten Van Kirk 7 2-2 18, Maddie Liudahl 2 0-0 6, Rylie Thompson 1 0-0 3, Natalie Walhof 1 0-1 2, Hailey VanDyken 0 0-0 0. Totals: 21 4-9 51.

WHITEHALL (11-6) - Britney Welker 2 0-0 4, Jada Clarkson 4 3-4 13, Lindsay Briggs 0 0-0 0, Ashlyn Ellison 3 0-0 9, Meagan Johnson 2 2-2 7, Kendra Klapan 1 0-0 2, Maxine Hoagland 3 0-2 7, Asha Noyes 3 0-0 6. Totals: 18 5-8 48.

3-point goals: MC 5 (Van Kirk 2, Liudahl 1, DeVries 1), White 7 (Ellison 3, Clarkson 2, Johnson 1, Hoagland 1).