It’s safe to say Thursday’s snowstorm has done plenty to disrupt the end to the high school basketball regular season.
MHS athletic director Mike Marsh said the games at Topeka Seaman will be played as scheduled tonight. With both Indian teams locked in ties that will affect sub-state seeding, playing the final regular-season game before the sub-state seeding deadline became a priority.
The games between Washburn Rural and Emporia scheduled for tonight were moved to Saturday and will not count toward sub-state seeding, which is a double-edged sword for Manhattan.
For the boys, it ensures that even with a win against Seaman, Rural will have a better winning percentage because they played one fewer game and are currently a game ahead in the standings. That leaves Manhattan and Wichita Heights to fight for the fourth seed. Games in the Wichita City League were still scheduled to be played Friday night, with Heights hosting Kapaun Mt. Carmel in a tough matchup. Should both teams win or lose, a coin flip would be the eventual tiebreaker because of identical records and the teams not meeting in the regular season.
For the girls’ team, Rural’s trip to Emporia not counting for sub-state works in its favor.
Rural’s sub-state record is now locked in at 14-5. KSHSAA uses winning percentage as the primary factor to decide seeds, so when Manhattan (14-5) and Wichita Heights (14-5) both play their games tonight, a win is enough to pass Rural in the standings. A loss would do the opposite and put Rural ahead.
Manhattan and Heights could both still tie, which would also be decided by coin flip.
The Wichita Heights girls’ team will have its hands full against Kapaun on Friday, with the only meeting between those two schools ending in a two-point Kapaun win.
But if Manhattan beats Seaman, they will guarantee themselves one of the top two seeds and the chance to host throughout sub-state, regardless of what Heights does.
Of course, a loss to Seaman would do the opposite. Rural would then be a half-game ahead in the standings, with the same number of wins but one fewer loss. If Wichita Heights beat Kapaun and Manhattan fell to the Vikings, the Indians would be the No. 3 seed and would face a road trip in the sub-state final.
While Manhattan coach Scott Mall has likely been watching the way the schedule has unfolded in the past two days, he knows it’s up to his team to take care of business.
Doing so against Seaman (16-3, 9-3 Centennial), however, will not be easy.
“They’re big,” Mall said. “They have a lot of size. They’re going to pound the ball inside, they’ll try to keep the ball out of the inside. It’ll be hard for our post girls, because they’re 6-foot-2, 6-foot inside, and they’re really athletic.
“We’ll have to do the things we’ve done all year and keep working and we’ll be alright.”
After playing several rematches against teams they’ve previously seen this year, Manhattan (14-5, 8-4) will get its first look at the Vikings.
“It’s kind of weird to not play somebody until the last game, but that’s the way our league is always set up,” Mall said. “The girls don’t know much about Seaman, so maybe that will be a good thing, but we need to focus on what we need to do.”
For the boys’ team, rebounding against Seaman (9-10, 6-6) is important after a lackluster showing at Hayden on Tuesday. Seaman has been up and down all year, but is currently 1-5 in its last six games, though three of those losses came by two points.
Manhattan coach Tim Brooks knows his team will have to be more focused than it was on Tuesday if they want to come away with a win on another team’s senior night.
“Very important,” Brooks said of the trip to Seaman. “It’s the difference between going on the road and hosting at sub-state. And though we’re not afraid to go on the road, it’s much more fun to play at home.”