In a sweep of Topeka High on Friday, both the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams at Manhattan High got important boosts to their confidence.
For the boys’ team, Tim Brooks’ squad desperately needed a win after losing three straight, all by nine points or less.
With a trip to Topeka West (1-12, 0-6 Centennial) looming on Tuesday, Brooks is hoping his team can make it two straight wins.
“Hopefully it’s a springboard of things to come,” he said. “Topeka West is playing much better. Coach (Rick) Bloomquist will get that turned around, it’s just a matter of time.”
With a new coach in Bloomquist, the Chargers have struggled all season, losing 10 straight to start the year before getting their first win against Topeka High, 55-41, in the seventh-place game of the Topeka Invitational last month. They lost to Washburn Rural by eight points on Friday, a team Manhattan fell to by five points three days before. But the Chargers have looked better in games lately. While they were competitive against Rural last week, the Chargers played them the first time in December, losing by 32 points.
Brooks said winning that first game of the year has allowed them to play more loose.
“They’ve got the monkey off their backs, so they’re probably playing with a lot less pressure right now,” he said. “It’s going to be tough, especially with us not playing very well on the road.”
Manhattan (7-7, 3-4) is 0-4 in true road games this season, with the neutral-court win against Maize at the McPherson Invitational serving as the only win away from Manhattan for the Indians.
For the girls’ team, the Indians are looking to build off a poised performance against Topeka High. Manhattan was able to methodically turn a back-and-forth game into a blowout in the fourth quarter, making the necessary adjustments to pull out the victory.
Against Topeka West (3-10, 0-7), staying focused will be the key for Manhattan, especially if the Indians continue to not have point guard Elayna Spilker back from injury.
“We had some great defensive trips, but then we’d turn around and give up something that was too easy,” Manhattan coach Scott Mall said. “We also had too many trips offensively where we didn’t get anything at all. We put ourselves in bad spots and didn’t get a look.”
Perhaps the biggest problem for Manhattan (11-3, 5-2) against Topeka High was its turnovers. Often unforced, Manhattan threw the ball away 12 times in the first half against the Trojans, which allowed Topeka High to keep things close.
Once Manhattan took care of the ball in the second half, the Indians went on a long scoring run to put the game away.
Tipoff in Topeka is set for 6 p.m. on Tuesday for the girls’ game, with the boys’ to follow.