The last time Manhattan and Washburn Rural met up this season, a confident Junior Blues boys’ team ran into a defensive freight train in the Indians.
MHS posted its best defensive performance of the season in that game, but it was all for naught as the Indians were beat 25-21 at home.
When the Indians travel to Topeka on Tuesday, they will be coming off a pair of solid wins over Topeka West and Great Bend. The wins helped MHS get back over .500 on the season at 7-6, and boosted its scoring confidence, as it gets ready for round 2 with the Junior Blues.
Washburn Rural is coming off a loss to Emporia, 65-59, which ended a four-game winning streak that featured three blowout wins.
The Junior Blues are 10-4 this season with a 5-2 Centennial League record, positioning them among the top three teams in the league. More importantly, their record puts them in position to take the No. 2 spot in the Indians’ sub-state, which could create a potential third matchup against the Indians.
In round one of the Washburn Rural vs. Manhattan showdown, the Junior Blues won the game essentially by being the first team to reach 20 points, which didn’t happen until the 5-minute mark of the fourth quarter.
The Indians were 6-of-34 from the field and made just two field goals in the entire second half. The team also struggled at the free throw line, keeping them from making a run at the lead late in the game.
Washburn Rural struggled from the field and the line too, holding the biggest lead of the game at 23-16, before the Indians finished the game on a 5-2 run to lose by four points.
If the scoring total was low, the individual scoring was even lower, as each team was led by a player with just seven points.
A 3-pointer hit by Riley Landuyt got the Junior Blues to 20 points on the game, and they closed it out from there.
From that point on, the Indians have focused on being defensive stoppers this season, looking to keep the score low and beat teams at the little things. The Indians are 4-3 since that point of the season.
Tuesday’s game with Washburn Rural will open a stretch of three out of four games on the road, including their second to last home game of the season against Seaman next Friday.