TOPEKA — Following his team’s second defeat in as many tries, Manhattan High head coach Tim Brooks was clearly unhappy with his team Tuesday night.
In losing to Hayden, 54-46, and giving the Wildcats just their second win of the season, the Indians’ coach was more concerned with the manner in which his team lost, namely, not running the sets that were called or doing the things the coaches pointed out as key to the team’s success.
“We talked about all kinds of things that we wanted to do, and things that would be the keys to our success, and we left them up on the board throughout the game,” Brooks said. “At halftime, we looked at them, and we didn’t do any of them. By the end of the game, we still hadn’t done any of them.”
Manhattan (5-2, 2-2 Centennial) faced an early deficit but rallied in the third quarter, outscoring the Wildcats 17-9 in the third to take a one-point lead into the final period. But the Indians went ice cold midway through the fourth quarter, shooting 2 for 12 in the fourth to go along with four turnovers that cost them any chance at winning the game.
“We haven’t had any carryover,” Brooks said. “There were a number of times when we came out of huddles and timeouts and called things to do, both offensively and defensively, and for some reason or another, we had guys on their own page and we didn’t do what was asked. We’re going to have to sit down and have a heart-to-heart talk.”
Manhattan was led by Payton Stephens, who finished with 13 points but battled foul trouble most of the night. Stephens was the only player to score in the first quarter, logging each of Manhattan’s seven points.
Alex Stitt was also in double figures with 10 points.
The Wildcats were led by Jacob Head and Marcus Meier, each scoring 16 points, with Derrick McGreevy adding 10.
For Hayden (2-4, 2-2), Tuesday’s win was just their second of the season, though the Wildcats have played a tough schedule.
The Wildcats were deliberate on offense and defense, shooting 19 of 37 (51 percent) for the game, while using a zone press off made buckets to slow down Manhattan’s transition game. Hayden also used Meier, who looked more like an offensive lineman in football than a forward in basketball, in the post to put the short-handed Indians into game-changing foul trouble.
“He does such a good job of establishing post position, and we didn’t work early enough,” Brooks said. “You’ve got to work in the post before he catches the ball. We didn’t try to keep him off the block, which we talked about doing. He’s a good free-throw shooter, he can go both ways, he’s a tough matchup.”
By the end of the game, Manhattan’s rotation of forwards, Stephens, Darian Taylor and Pierson McAtee, each had at least four fouls, with Chris Martin the only post defender not in foul trouble. With Bret Fehr not dressed to play and Winston Dimel out for the season following shoulder surgery, Brooks said Manhattan’s seven-man rotation has to play smarter to avoid fouls.
“It kills us,” Brooks said. “When you’ve got to sit there with Payton and Darian and Chris in foul trouble, and they’re pounding the ball inside, occasionally they’ve got to let them score so they don’t pick up their third, fourth, fifth foul.”
Manhattan shot 15 of 41 (36 percent) for the game, but just 2 of 10 from long range. They were 14 of 17 from the free-throw line, compared to Hayden’s 14 of 23.
Up next for Manhattan is a trip to Junction City to face a Blue Jays team that defeated Topeka High Tuesday night.
“It’s going to be tough, it’ll be a tough environment over there and once again we’ve got a target on our back and we’ve got to respond,” Brooks said. “They’re a lot better than they’ve been the last two or three years. They’ve got as much talent as anybody in the league, and they’re playing pretty well.”
TOC Bracket released
Officials in Dodge City released the 71st annual Tournament of Champions bracket Wednesday morning, with Manhattan drawing the No. 5 seed and an opening-round matchup with fourth-seeded Wichita Heights (7-1) at 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 23.
Heights isn’t the same elite team it was in winning four straight Class 6A titles with Perry Ellis, but at 7-1, are still a formidable team. Undefeated Hays drew the top seed and opens with No. 7 seed Hutchinson. When you