EMPORIA — Manhattan High boys’ basketball coach Tim Brooks felt like this one might have gotten away from his Indians.
Trailing by just one at halftime to a team MHS lost to 75-40 at home earlier this season, the Indians couldn’t stop Emporia from taking over in the second half in a 66-48 loss.
“I don’t think it was an 18-point game,” Brooks said. “I thought it just got away from us at the end. We weren’t going to lay down, and if it was going to be a street fight, we were going to fight them.”
With the Indians (9-10, 6-6) trailing 29-28, Emporia would outscore them 15-7 for the rest of the third period to pull ahead by nine before the fourth quarter.
Brooks said his team made too many mistakes coming out after halftime.
“I thought that it was our turnovers and our shot selection,” he said. “We really harped on it, especially taking good shots, and I thought we took a couple quick ones and we also turned it over so many times there in the third quarter and it really hurt us.”
Freshman forward Payton Stephens was just about the only thing going right for Manhattan in the third quarter, as he scored seven of the Indians’ 11 points in the period.
Jackson Perez opened the final period with a layup, and then hit Jerel Morrow on an alley-oop dunk to push the lead out to 13. The Indians never seemed to recover.
Manhattan would get as close as nine points midway through the period, but the Spartans went on an 8-2 run to pull away for good.
The second half, as a whole, could be summed up as a free-for-all for Perez, who scored 23 of his game-high 29 points in the last two quarters.
The game almost had a case of déjà-vu from the get-go, as Emporia looked like it was going to pull out in front for good. With the game tied at four, the Spartans went on a 7-0 run barely 2 minutes in to go ahead 11-4.
But MHS refused to quit, coming back with an old-fashioned three-point play from John Perbeck and a basket from Deante Burton to trail 11-9. The Indians were held scoreless for the remainder of the quarter and trailed 15-9 after one quarter.
The Indians would open the second quarter on a 7-0 run with four points from Brandon Payne and a 3 from Keaton Barragar to take a 16-15 lead. The teams battled back-and-forth the rest of the first half, with the Spartans leading 25-24 at halftime.
Brooks said he thought his team stuck well to the gameplan for the majority of the contest.
“We talked about coming out and really fighting and I thought that outside of the first few minutes, we did fight, and we did scrap,” he said. “We continued to play hard, even though we gave up some runs in the third and fourth quarter. Our guys never quit, which is a good sign.”
Payne led the MHS scoring with 10 points, while Stephens added nine points. Burton, Barragar and Jacob Sobering scored eight points apiece.
With so many players contributing to a balanced scoring attack, Brooks couldn’t help but have a hint of disappointment in the outcome.
“It’s disappointing because I thought our bigs played great on both ends of the floor,” Brooks said. “Deante and Payton and Jacob Sobering and John Perbeck all had to guard guys that were bigger than them, and all had pretty good defensive games.
“Our bigs were good, I just wish our guards would have been as good.”
Manhattan will be on the road on Friday to face Topeka High.
EMPORIA 66, MANHATTAN 48
Manhattan 9 15 11 13 — 48
Emporia 15 10 19 22 — 66
MANHATTAN (48) — Payne 10, Stephens 9, Burton 8, Sobering 8, Barragar 8, Perbeck 3, Taylor 2.
EMPORIA (66) — Perez 29, Vandiver 15, Morrow 12, Knight 3, Huth 2, Savage 2.
3-pointers — Manhattan 2 (Barragar 2). Emporia none.