This season, Jacob Holloway has knocked down plenty of big shots for Manhattan High.
But Friday against Topeka High, the senior’s kiss off the glass from six feet was perhaps the biggest of his season, lifting the Indians past the Trojans 31-30 in front of a raucous crowd on homecoming night.
“I was just trying to make a play with numbers in transition,” Holloway said. “I saw I had an opening — took a bad shot, but luckily it came off the backboard and got an easy one.”
Leading by one with less than 15 seconds on the clock, Tyrese Parker had the chance to stake the Trojans to a three-point lead, but missed the front-end free throw.
MHS controlled the rebound and got the ball to Holloway, who drove the length of the floor and put up a contested runner that hit the side of the backboard. He got his own rebound, however, and his put-back off the glass from six feet was good, causing the near-capacity crowd to erupt as students rushed the court.
But officials put 2 seconds back on the clock after clearing the students, because Topeka High coach Pat Denney called timeout immediately following the made basket.
After a pair of timeouts, Raymond Solis’ miss from halfcourt ended the game, much to the delight of the students, who were allowed to celebrate on the court after all.
“We can’t thank them enough,” Manhattan coach Tim Brooks said of the rowdy students. “We struggled offensively and missed quite a few shots that we normally make. When we did score, they were crazy. When we got steals, they were crazy, and it really gave us a lift.”
Topeka High (4-10, 2-5 Centennial) had other chances to put the game away. Solis, who scored a team-high 17 points, missed another front-end free throw with the Trojans up by one.
Of course, MHS (7-7, 3-4) had chances too.
Despite making the game-winner, Holloway finished the night 4 of 17 from the field and just 1 of 11 from 3 — six of those long-range misses coming in the fourth quarter.
Instead it was Jonathon Taylor, who was crowned homecoming king before the game, knocking down a 3, albeit a bank shot, to get the Indians within one with a minute to play.
“We wanted to get the ball inside, and in the first half when we did, we were effective,” Brooks said. “We really were. We’ve shot the ball well from the arc all year long — you can’t really be too upset on the open looks that come from inside-out.”
Brooks said he was pleased that Taylor had the chance to knock down a big shot for the Indians.
“It’s a big shot by him, and he deserves it,” Brooks said. “He’s had a really good year and he’s such a good kid and has done so much for the program, he deserves to be in that position.”
Both teams struggled to score the ball in a game that was low on both turnovers and scoring. While Manhattan mixed up its defenses as usual, Topeka High did as well, showing plenty of zone looks early and watching as the Indians continued to launch errant 3s. The Indians finished the game 2 of 16 from long range.
Brooks said it was a combination of good defense and bad shooting.
“It was a defensive battle,” he said. “We got some good looks, sometimes we forced a couple. But I thought we got good looks for the most part. It was just a monster struggle. Two physical teams playing ‘til the very end.”
Solis proved to be a tough matchup for the Indians, with all of Manhattan’s bigs getting a shot at containing him. He scored more than half his team’s points and was also a force defensively, altering shots in the middle of their zone and forcing the Indians to settle for outside shots.
“He’s so strong,” Brooks said of Solis. “He shows the ability to step out and shoot a 3, which makes him tougher. You can’t back off of him.”
The game was close all night, with each team taking no more than a five-point lead. The way both teams were struggling shooting the ball, Topeka’s four-point lead after a 3 and a shot in the lane by Solis with less than three minutes to play was almost enough in a game with 12 lead changes.
With a trip to Topeka West (1-12, 0-6) on Tuesday, Brooks is hoping his team uses this win as a confidence booster going forward.
“It feels good. Our kids really deserve it,” Brooks said. “We talked here at the end of the game, hopefully it’s a springboard of things to come. I think confidence is a crazy thing — we surely can’t be too overconfident now, but I think it will give us some confidence.”
In the case of Holloway, lack of confidence was never an issue, as the senior continued to shoot open looks, including the game-winner, even on a tough shooting night.
“That’s the way shooters are,” Brooks said. “You have to have a short memory, and he hit the one that counted.” he said.