For the second straight game, the Manhattan High boys’ basketball team was nearly impossible to solve on defense.
But this time around, it got its offense going too in a 51-45 win over Junction City on Friday in Manhattan.
Although, early on the game, it seemed like it might be a case of the same story from Tuesday night against Washburn Rural, when the Indians scored just 21 points in a 25-21 loss.
Junction City got hot shooting from James Redrick in the first few minutes of the opening quarter, as he scored seven points to put the Blue Jays ahead 7-4. The Blue Jays led 12-9 with 2:08 to play, and things finally looked to click for the Indians (4-3) in the final two minutes as they scored four points to go ahead 13-12.
But they were just getting started.
The Blue Jays would score early with another Redrick 3-pointer and a free throw on a possession later to go ahead 16-13. Then the Indians opened up on a run that changed the ballgame.
Jacob Sobering, Brandon Payne and Deante Burton scored on consecutive trips down the floor to put MHS ahead three. After a Junction City basket, the Indians reeled off eight straight points to go ahead 27-18 before Tra’ Twitty made a free throw with one second to play in the first half.
The Blue Jays scored first in the third quarter, but once again, the Indians responded with a run — this time a 9-0 surge — to go ahead 36-21 and essentially put the game away.
MHS coach Tim Brooks said his team was much better offensively this time around.
“I think offensively we were much more patient and disciplined,” he said. “We took better shots and when we do that I think we have a chance to win ball games because we really get after it defensively.”
Brooks said after Tuesday’s game, MHS had players coming in individually to work on their shots.
“We had guys come in during lunch and shoot, we had guys come in and shoot at other times during the day,” he said. “It shows me that they care, and that it bothered them as much as it bothered me.”
Junction City would, however, pull within seven points of the lead with 1:41 to play, and the Indians had to battle at the free throw line to keep their lead. Junction City hit a 3-pointer and made a basket in a 5-2 run with less than 20 seconds to play to make the score appear a bit closer.
Brooks said his team’s defense performed well once again, especially when running the zone defense, which frustrated the Blue Jays at times.
“Credit to our guys, they continue to work at it and they read and understand what the offense is doing and they try to counter it,” he said. “We’re making strides in our zone.”
The Indians showcased a balanced offensive attack in the game, as Burton and Payne each finished with 12 points and Jonathon Taylor had 10.
Brooks said his team is most dangerous when it distributes the ball around and has several different players leading the scoring charge.
“We really don’t have one guy to key on and I think offensively we can be very good if we spread the scoring around,” he said.
The Indians will play in the Dodge City Tournament of Champions this week, starting with a game on Thursday against Hutchinson. It will a rematch of the first-round game between the Indians and Hutchinson from last season’s midseason tournament in McPherson, and the third straight year both teams are in the same tournament.
MANHATTAN 51, JUNCTION CITY 45
Junction City 12 7 6 20 — 45
Manhattan 13 14 11 13 — 51
JUNCTION CITY (45) — J. Redrick 15, Johnston 9, Twitty 6, Johnson 6, Wilds 3, Stepan 2, Olds 2, D. Redrick 2.
MANHATTAN (51) — Burton 12, Payne 12, Taylor 10, Barragar 6, Sobering 4, Keck 3, Perbeck 2, Holloway 2.
3-pointers — Junction City 4 (J. Redrick 2, Twitty, Johnston). Manhattan (Payne).