Two days, two games, two blowout wins.
That pretty sums up the weekend road trip out west for the Manhattan High boys’ basketball team. After dominating Dodge City Friday night from start to finish, the Indians outscored Great Bend 47-20 in the second and third quarters to turn a tight game into a rout Saturday afternoon.
Manhattan head coach Tim Brooks said his team played with great energy, especially considering it’s their first time playing back-to-back games in back-to-back days.
“When we make good plays, it’s contagious,” he said. “It gets everybody a little more hyped and more energy.”
Early on, Manhattan needed energy against Great Bend, trailing by two after the first quarter. But the Indians turned it on in the second quarter, going on a 20-5 run to get plenty of separation.
Brooks said the slow start may have been due to the quick turnaround after Friday night’s victory.
“It might have something to do with playing so early in the afternoon,” he said. “We talked about getting off to a good start and playing with a lot of energy.”
Manhattan’s Payton Stephens led with 17 points, while Gabe Awbrey scored 11, all in the first half.
Great Bend was led by Kody Crosby’s nine points, while Blake Sullivan had eight.
Stephens was especially solid in the third quarter, scoring with ease against the Great Bend defense.
“He can be a beast down low,” Brooks said. “He was rebounding for us, he stepped out and hit a couple shots. We’ve got to continue to get the ball in his hands — he makes good things happen, and he also passes out of it well.”
Manhattan hit 3s at the buzzer at the end of the second and third quarters, the first by Awbrey before halftime and the second by Pierson McAtee at the end of the third. Brooks said he was pleased with the execution in a pressure situation.
“It’s nice to see that we’ve got some leadership and are able to execute there, especially when the clock is running down — we don’t panic,” Brooks said. “I think a lot of that has to do with Alex being out there and being our floor leader.”
The Indians skip the midweek game on Tuesday before hosting Emporia Friday night in Manhattan.
“I think we need to rest, and we’ll come back probably Tuesday and start at it pretty hard,” Brooks said. “We’ve got to work Darian (Taylor) in a little bit and get him more comfortable with what we’re doing. We tried to get him in there in short spurts, hopefully he’s not too sore.”
MANHATTAN 55, DODGE CITY 37
A night full of turnovers made Manhattan’s matchup against Dodge City a blowout from the opening tip, as the Indians turned a 21-2 lead in the first quarter into a 55-37 win on the road Friday night.
The Indians took advantage of 22 turnovers by the young Red Demons — 11 in the first quarter alone — to take a big lead they would never relinquish.
“We came out with a lot of energy,” Manhattan head coach Tim Brooks told KMAN in a postgame radio interview. “We talked about not coming out flat, which is tough after a long bus ride like we had (Friday).”
The Indians got 13 points from Payton Stephens and 12 from Alex Stitt, with Pierson McAtee also in double figures with 10.
Early in the game, Manhattan took advantage of an inexperienced group of Red Demons, who were without leading scorer Jace Larson because of injury.
“They had some green guys out there at the start for the first time because of the injuries they had,” Brooks said. “We wanted to make them feel uncomfortable and get out in the passing lanes, and our guys did a nice job of running after those.”
The Indians took it to the Red Demons quickly to start the game, taking a 10-0 lead in the first two minutes to force a Dodge City timeout, but Manhattan wasn’t done. The Indians allowed Dodge City to score its first points of the game with just less than four minutes to play, but did not score again in the first quarter, spotting the Indians a 21-2 lead.
Dodge City finally got a little bit going in the second quarter, with Austin Weiser scoring 10 points to help cut Manhattan’s lead to 30-15.
The Indians picked up where they left off in the third quarter, outscoring Dodge City 13-8 to lead 43-23 before scoring eight unanswered points to lead 51-23 early in the fourth quarter and force a Red Demon timeout. From there, Manhattan ran clock on offense and emptied its bench.