At the beginning of the season, Hayden might not have been picked to win the Centennial League title.
But at 7-1 in league play and 13-3 overall, the Wildcats are leading the league standings entering Tuesday’s contest against Manhattan.
The Indians will be going on the road for the second straight game, which will end up seeing them having played four of their final five games away from home.
The season for the Wildcats started off with the team that landed the Indians in sixth place at the Dodge City Tournament of Champions, St. James Academy.
In a close game on the road, the Wildcats edged St. James Academy 51-50, and they would struggle at times for the rest of December and early January.
Hayden followed the season-opening win with a loss at Leavenworth, and then needed overtime to beat Seaman, which Manhattan beat on Friday. The Wildcats finished up December with a close win against Basehor-Linwood.
The Wildcats started off 2012 with their only league loss of the season, falling 52-50 at Highland Park. But Hayden reeled off three straight league wins to rebound from the loss, beating Emporia, Junction City and Topeka High before the Burlington Invitational started.
Hayden’s season seemed to turn for the better at the tournament, as it swept through the competition with double figure wins, including a 65-22 win over Iola in the championship game.
The Wildcats lost their first game after the tournament to Holton, but have been untouched since then. They rallied to beat Emporia, and then knocked off Highland Park in two overtimes.
The Wildcats beat Junction City and Topeka West last week by an average of nearly 20 points per contest.
Manhattan fell to 8-8 on the season after losing by two points to Salina Central on Saturday, and only have tough contests between here and the end of the regular season.
Saturday’s loss to the Mustangs saw Deante Burton score in double figures for the second straight game, once again scoring 15 points. Brandon Payne scored 17 points off the bench after struggling in recent games.
The Indians follow up Tuesday’s road game at Hayden with their final home game against Shawnee Heights. With MHS’ current standings among sub-state teams, it does not have the chance to host a sub-state first round game.
Manhattan will close the regular season with road games at Emporia and at Topeka High. If the Indians make it to a sub-state final, they would again play at Topeka High for that game.