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Indians face big road test at Hayden

By Grant Guggisberg

While the Manhattan High boys’ basketball team got its toughest test of the season against Shawnee Heights last Friday, the girls’ team won in a rout.

The girls’ test comes tonight with a trip to play undefeated Hayden on the road at 6:15 p.m.

The two teams have just one common opponent at this point in the season, Washburn Rural. Hayden won in overtime, 57-45, while Manhattan won against the Junior Blues, 57-51.

Hayden is ranked No. 5 in Class 4A D-I by the KBCA, while the Indians have moved up to No. 5 in Class 6A.

Last season, the two teams met twice, with Hayden (5-0, 3-0 Centennial) getting the sweep en route to a Centennial League title. The first matchup in Manhattan ended with a 29-22 Hayden win that was ugly for both teams. The return game was much higher scoring, with Hayden winning 56-43 behind a dominant full-court press.

Manhattan (5-1, 3-0) girls’ coach Scott Mall said the challenge in this year’s matchup lies within Hayden’s athleticism.

“They’re awfully good,” Mall said. “They have good overall height - a lot of girls in the 5-8 to 5-11 range out there. They’re very athletic and they’re very aggressive defensively.”

Hayden is led by three players who each average double-figure scoring in Kirah Lohse (14 ppg), Bree Schmidt (11.4 ppg) and Miranda Beck (10.6 ppg).

Mall said the Indian guards will need to have a solid game if they hope to pull out the upset on the road.

“They get after you more than any other team,” Mall said. “They forced Washburn Rural into like 30 turnovers, and offensively they have a lot of different weapons and they’re very aggressive. They do a lot of different things to score on you.

“Our guards are going to have to be a real strength for us in that game.”

For the Manhattan boys (5-1, 2-1), rebounding from the first loss of the season will be the goal when the Indians make the trip to Hayden (1-4, 1-2).

The Wildcats have struggled so far this season, but have done so against a tough schedule. Among ranked teams they’ve played, they lost by one to Holton and six to Basehor-Linwood, while also falling to Washburn Rural by six. Their lone win came on Friday night against a much-improved Topeka West team, 57-52.

Hayden is led by two standouts in Jacob Head and Marcus Meier. Head is averaging a Centennial League-leading 24 points per game while Meier has chipped in an average of 17 per game.

For Manhattan head coach Tim Brooks, the focus is inward as he waits to see how his team deals with adversity.

“We’ll see,” Brooks said. “We talked about what we’re going to do, whether we’re going to pout and mope, or are we going to try and learn from it and move on. When you’re undefeated, you’ve got a target on your back and everybody wants to beat you.

“(Shawnee Heights) wanted to beat us bad, but Hayden will too, and Junction will too, so we’ve got to be ready to play and be focused.”

The boys’ game will tip following the girls’ game at approximately 7:45.

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