MHS closes TOC with loss to Maize

John Curtis

By A Contributor

DODGE CITY — It looked like Manhattan High was going to get a come-from-behind victory Saturday over the Maize in the third-place game of the 71st Annual Tournament of Champions at United Wireless Arena.

But the Indians couldn’t keep the pressure going after working so hard to regain the lead, and the Eagles scored the final five points of the game to hand Manhattan a 51-47 loss to close out its action at the tournament.

The Indians trailed 46-40 with three minutes remaining before going on a quick 7-0 run. Payton Stephens made a basket before Alex Stitt bombed a 3-pointer on a second chance after a missed free throw. Gabe Awbrey’s two free throws made the score 47-46 with 1:50 remaining in regulation.

But the Eagles stayed patient on offense and Maize’s Connor Eleeson was able to find an opening and score on a layup to push his team back on top. Eleeson then made two free throws and Aaron Shaw made a final one to put the game out of Manhattan’s reach.

“It was tough,” Manhattan head coach Tim Brooks said. “We had gone on that run and were getting easy looks and were trapping well on defense. The one time we trapped, but didn’t rotate, they made a basket. I don’t know if it took the sails out of us, but it really hurt us.”

Stephens scored 12 points to lead Manhattan (7-4), while Darian Taylor added eight. Stephens was also named to the all-tournament team.

Jacob Horsch scored 18 points to lead Maize (10-1). Aaron Shaw added 15 points. Maize made 14 of 29 from the field in the win.

The Indians scored six of the first seven points of the contest and got back into the groove after the Eagles made a run to cut the margin to one a couple of times to lead 13-9 after eight minutes of play.

Maize scored the first nine points of the second quarter to take the lead in the contest and held a 22-19 margin at halftime. Manhattan made only two baskets in the quarter after the Eagle took the lead.

The Indians opened up strong in the second half to retake the lead, but couldn’t keep it as Maize was able to get back to its halftime margin by the end of the third stanza at 39-36. The Eagles went up by six with three minutes remaining before Manhattan started its rally.

The Indians won’t play again for almost a week and Brooks said this tournament showed what his team needs to work on in the second half of the season.

“We played three very good basketball teams and we played them tough,” Brooks said. “It showed us where we are, but not where we want to be. We have things we need to work on and we have a week to work to be a better basketball team.”

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