TOPEKA — If it weren’t for the third quarter from Jahmal McMurrary, the Manhattan High boys’ basketball team might have had a chance at an upset on Thursday inside the “Pressure Cooker” at Highland Park.
Instead, the Scots’ sophomore guard delivered a couple 3s to end any momentum the Indians gained in the first half, and helped Highland Park put the game away early in the fourth in a 50-35 Scots win.
McMurrary scored eight of his 10 points — all scored in the second half — in the third quarter, making it hard for the Indians to keep up.
MHS coach Tim Brooks said he thought some offensive miscues and 14 turnovers didn’t help the Indians’ cause either.
“At times we had good possessions and got the look that we wanted to get, other times we’d get back on our heels because of the pressure and throw some long, slow passes that would create steals,” he said.
He scored the first five points of the quarter to extend a 5-point halftime lead to 10 points, and after a John Perbeck free throw for the Indians and a basket from Highland Park’s Shafee Carr, he hit another 3 to put the Scots up 33-19.
The Indians would cut the lead back down to five points with a 10-1 run that ended the quarter, but Carr and McMurrary got points early in the fourth quarter to start building another Scots lead, and the Indians would never get any closer than nine points.
Manhattan started out evened up with Highland Park at 2-2, but the Scots took advantage of a few untimely Indians turnovers with a 10-2 run to finish out the quarter, including 3-pointers from Michael Johnson and Jaylen Jenkins.
Manhattan got its opening points from freshman forward Payton Stephens, and got just one more basket in the quarter, coming from Perbeck.
Highland Park extended its lead to 10 points in the opening minute of the second period, but Perbeck sparked a run to bring the Indians back into the game. Jacob Sobering and Deante Burton scored buckets on the inside and then Stephens assisted Pat Keck on a 3-pointer to bring the Indians within a point at 14-13.
The Scots answered big with a 7-0 run that included a three-point play from Shafee Carr to go up 21-13, but Stephens found Keck for another 3 and Payne knocked down a pair of free throws to make the score 21-18. Steffon Kyles scored in the final minute for the Scots to make it a 5-point Highland Park lead.
The Scots often thrive on their pressure defense, but ironically, that’s when the Indians seemed to be at their most effective offensively.
“We made some nice plays, and I think we had some turnovers off of them and went down and capitalized,” Brooks said. “And Pat Keck came in and made some big baskets for us.”
Coming off a 1-2 weekend at a tournament and having just a few days to prepare for a tough road game against one of the toughest teams in the league, Brooks thought his team played OK outside of its turnovers.
“It’s a tough day to come in here and play,” he said. “I think our kids handled it as well as expected. I think that we were prepared for them, we just had too many turnovers.”
Brandon Payne had 11 points for the Indians, while Keck finished at nine points off three 3s.
Manhattan has more than a week before its next game, homecoming against Topeka West next Friday.
HIGHLAND PARK 50, MANHATTAN 35
Manhattan 4 14 11 6 — 35
Highland Park 12 11 11 16 — 50
MANHATTAN (35) — Payne 11, Keck 9, Burton 5, Perbeck 4, Taylor 2, Stephens 2, Sobering 2.
HIGHLAND PARK (50) — Carr 12, McMurrary 10, Kyles 10, Johnson 7, Wheeler 6, Jenkins 3, Barksdale 2.
3-pointers — Manhattan 5 (Keck 3, Payne 2). Highland Park 4 (McMurrary 2, Johnson 1, Jenkins 1).