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MHS boys basketball wins offensive battle with Shawnee Heights, 78-72

By Maria McIlwain

It’s hardly ever boring with Manhattan High School boys basketball, and the Indians certainly made Tuesday night’s game against Shawnee Heights interesting.

Manhattan (5-2, 3-1 Centennial League) beat Shawnee Heights, 78-72, in a high-octane contest that featured a career high in points from Indians’ point guard Trevor Hudgins. The senior, who broke the school record in assists on Friday at Highland Park, recorded 29 points, including 14 in the first quarter.

Head coach Benji George said that is exactly what he wanted out of Hudgins.

“He only had five shots on Friday night, and I just don’t recognize that in No. 12,” George said. “He has to be a guy (who) scores the basketball for us, or at least goes on the attack. When he’s on the attack, he’s getting his assists, he’s getting his points, and we’re just better as a team.”

Hudgins wasn’t the only one with an impressive night. Tommy Ekart scored 15 points in the second half en route to a 20-point performance, and Cade Roberts recorded 10 points while pulling down a team-leading eight rebounds.

“I thought throughout the game, there were great contributions,” George said. “I know we shortened the bench in the fourth quarter, but there were tremendous contributions from a lot of people.”

Shawnee Heights (5-2, 2-2 Centennial League) drew first blood on a 3-pointer by T-Birds’ co-leading scorer Jesse Moss. He and fellow senior Michael Brooks each had 18 points. Tyler White had a solid night, scoring nine of his 13 points from 3-point range. Poncho Freeman also finished in double figures with 11 points.

The first quarter was back-and-forth, with the lead changing hands multiple times before Manhattan went on a 9-3 run sparked by Hudgins.

It seemed like Manhattan might be able to relax as the lead grew to 12 in the second quarter.

Not so fast.

Shawnee Heights chipped away, and a Trey Brown jumper at the buzzer cut the Indians’ lead to just three at halftime.

The T-Birds quickly took care of the rest of that deficit after the break. A 3-pointer by Moss gave Shawnee Heights its first lead since the opening quarter. Both teams traded baskets — and the lead — until a Manhattan 6-0 run. Shawnee Heights got within one point of the Indians, but never took the lead again.

But that didn’t mean the T-Birds were giving up. Brooks hit opportune shots to prevent Manhattan from pulling away in the fourth quarter, and the pace of play was intense until the end.

“We were executing our plays pretty well in the second half, and we were playing somewhat good D,” Hudgins said. “Their shooters started getting hot, which was a bit of a nail-biter, but we started making adjustments, and we got after them, and we started getting back in our pace and flowing.”

After Friday’s disappointing loss at Highland Park, Hudgins said there was a sense of redemption with Tuesday’s win.

“Friday’s game was not us at all,” Hudgins said. “We were not doing anything we were taught. We were lazy pretty much. The ball wasn’t going in the hole, it affected our defense and we just got outplayed.”

George said his teams have never posted back-to-back losses.

“Nobody was proud of Friday night, and you learn what your guys are made of because on Saturday morning, they were all in here without me saying a word, shooting,” George said. “Guys got up 1,000 shots on Sunday.”

Up next, Manhattan hits the road to face Topeka West on Friday.

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