DODGE CITY — It was close, but not enough Friday night, as the Manhattan High boy’ basketball team could not overcome a poor third quarter, losing to Hays, 42-36, in the 71st Annual Tournament of Champions semifinal at United Wireless Arena.
Manhattan will play in the third-place game on Saturday against the winner of Friday’s late semifinal game, Wichita East and Maize.
Tied 17-17 at halftime, Hays came away with possibly the two biggest shots of the game because they provided it with just enough cushion to hang on and win the game.
Manhattan’s Alex Stitt had just made a jumper to give his team a 21-20 lead with 2:45 to go in the third quarter, but Hays fired back with consecutive 3-pointers to match its largest lead of the game so far and take 26-21 advantage into the final quarter, outscoring MHS 9-4 in the frame.
Manhattan (7-3) got within two points twice and one point once in the final four minutes of the game, but could not finish the comeback. Hays closed the game making 9 of 12 from the free-throw line.
Payton Stephens led MHS with nine points and six rebounds, as he battled foul trouble most of the game. Stitt added seven points and Pierson McAtee had six points on a pair of 3-pointers.