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Indians host Washburn Rural in rematch

By Grant Guggisberg

When the Manhattan High boys’ basketball team beat Seaman to end the regular season on Friday, it did more than just secure a home game for the first round of sub-state.

It also gave the Indians some much-needed confidence heading into the postseason.

Of course, it helps that Manhattan is 7-2 at home and just 3-5 in true road games, even if Brooks can’t necessarily put his finger on the reason why.

“It’s pretty big for us and for our seniors,” Brooks said. “They earned the opportunity to play at home, so it’s important for them. We play better at home. I like the way our guys are focused when they play at home, so it should be to our advantage.”

The Indians host Washburn Rural at 7 p.m. Wednesday night, earning a rematch against a team that beat them 45-40 on Jan. 29 in Topeka.

Manhattan went back and forth with the Junior Blues that evening, facing an early 11-point deficit before taking leads in the third and fourth quarter in a game that went down to the wire.

This time around, the challenge will be tougher, as Rural was without its senior post, 6-foot-7 Reed Rowell. Rowell scored 16 points in a loss to Emporia on Saturday and will be a force inside against the smaller Indians.

Of course, if the Indians can duplicate the success they had against Seaman in the regular-season finale, they’ll be tough to beat no matter who they play. Manhattan shot 60 percent from the floor and 6 of 7 (85 percent) from behind the arc to quash any thought of a Viking comeback.

Manhattan had the chance to play physically as well, imposing its will and matching Seaman’s intensity level throughout the night. If the Indians can get Rowell in foul trouble, as they did with many of Seaman’s top players Friday night, it will only help their chances of avenging January’s loss.

“We’ve been playing that way all year, and for another team to try and match our physicality is fine with us,” Brooks said. “We have guys that love to bang — even on the perimeter our guys like to play physical.”

Should Manhattan (11-9) advance past Rural (10-9) Wednesday night, it would face the winner of top-seeded Derby (16-3) and eighth-seeded Topeka High (6-13) on Friday night.

Tipoff for Wednesday’s game is set for 7 p.m.

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