Friday’s win over Dodge City had a certain measure of revenge factored into the final score.
The Manhattan High football team saw its season end at the hands of Dodge City this fall in a game that got out of hand quickly. With several key contributors on this year’s basketball team also playing on the football team, revenge was probably in the back of most of their minds when the Red Demons came to town.
This time, the Indians rose to the occasion, taking an early lead in the first quarter and maintaining it all night in a game that featured stout defenses and poor shooting by both teams and a 34-30 final.
“We talked about it just a little bit,” head coach Tim Brooks said of the football game. “Usually you don’t want to try and add any extra motivation, but I’m sure it’s in the back of their minds. Everybody plays for a lot of different reasons, and that was a reason for some people.”
Chris Hudgins, who came up big for Manhattan, scored a game-high 12 points while knocking down 5 of 6 free throws in the fourth quarter. He said the football season finale did play into Friday’s matchup, but winning in basketball doesn’t change what happened in football.
“Yes and no,” Hudgins said. “This is a new season, a new basketball season. Football season did end tragically with a loss to Dodge, and there were definitely some things we wanted to get settled with Dodge, and we did that tonight.”
Hudgins’ play down the stretch proved to be the difference for the Indians, with the senior serving as the only bright spot from the charity stripe all night.
“If he doesn’t do that, we lose,” Brooks said. “We talked in the locker room about not dwelling on free throws, and they’re all good enough to step up there and make free throws. But, to hit it when it counts like that is huge.”
Manhattan led from the opening tip, but the biggest lead of the night was seven in the third quarter, as the Red Demons had an answer for nearly every play the Indians made. While neither team shot the ball well from the field, Manhattan was especially bad from the free-throw line until Hudgins took over in the fourth.
With Brooks hailing from Dodge City originally and doing many of the same things coach Dennis Hamilton does, the game played out more as a defensive matchup than anything else.
“It was kind of a chess match, and our guys were able to make enough plays down the stretch,” Brooks said. “We know everything about them, they know everything about us, and it was evident by the way the game was played. We took things away from them and they took things away from us.”
Hudgins scored seven of his teams eight fourth-quarter points as Dodge City tried to lengthen the game with fouls at the end. The senior said concentration was the biggest factor for him.
“Between all the noise and distractions in the stands, and even on the court, you’ve just got to concentrate and block everything out,” he said. “That’s what I have to do to make my free throws.”
Manhattan switched its defense some throughout the win, but found its man-to-man defense the most effective.
“We’re going to have to hang out hat on that,” Brooks said. “Our guys missed a few assignments here and there, but for the most part, defensively we were really good.”
Jacob Holloway hit three 3s in the first half, finishing with nine points. Dodge City was led by Matt Goedeken’s eight points.
“We didn’t shoot the ball well, but I think I’d give Manhattan a lot of that credit,” Hamilton said. “When you shoot whatever it was, 31 or 32 percent from the field, 1-of-11 from behind the arc, it makes it kind of tough to win a lot of games.”