Indians come back to beat Emporia, 64-52

By Joel Jellison

The Manhattan High boys’ basketball team used a 10-0 run in the third quarter to come from behind and defeat Emporia, 64-52, on the road on Saturday night.

The Indians (8-4) got off to a slow start against the Spartans, who are winless in Centennial League play, but made a late run at the Emporia to trail 25-22 at halftime.

Payton Stephens started the decisive third-quarter run by scoring the first four points, giving the Indians a 32-25 lead they would never surrender. By the end of the third quarter, MHS had pushed its lead to 44-36.

“We really were able to set the tone defensively in the second half by playing more man-to-man and letting our defense create offense,” interim coach Benji George said. “That really was our sparkplug offensively.”

Emporia (2-10) pulled as close 53-46 before the Indians were closed out the game with free throws down the stretch.

“Besides the defense, we did a better job of knocking down open shots,” George said. “We got a lot of open shots in the first half — they weren’t falling for us. That really was our message at halftime. We really did a nice job of knocking down open shots.”

Stephens led the Indians with 16 points, while Pierson McAtee scored 13 and Alex Stitt had 11.

“Pierson really stepped up big in the second half, he made some open looks and forced the issue getting to the rim,” George said. “Payton was continuous all night, he really battled. Alex got our offense going. We shared the basketball really well.”

It was the Indians’ first game under interim coaches Shane Sieben and George after head coach Tim Brooks was suspended Friday. The length and reason for the suspension is unknown, but Brooks told The Mercury he was informed an investigation would be completed by Tuesday.

“I can’t comment on the situation specifically, but we had two good days of practice, everybody was locked in, they were coachable and we did a good job of executing,” George said.

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