TOPEKA — For the second time this week, the Manhattan High boys’ basketball team saw a slow start turn into a big hole.
And for the second straight time, that hole was too hard to crawl back out of in a 64-42 loss at Topeka High.
The Indians were still in the game when the second half started, trailing by 11 points. But they were out of it in just 3 and a 1/2 minutes. Topeka went on a 9-0 run in that time frame to go ahead 46-26.
The Indians scored five of their seven third-quarter points off the bench, with reserve Chris Hudgins coming in to spark a quick 5-0 run. Hudgins scored five of the Indians’ 16 points in the second half, while freshman Peyton Stephens would score five of his nine points in the fourth quarter.
MHS coach Tim Brooks said Stephens is starting to come into his own for the Indians.
“Peyton is becoming more well rounded and his nerves have been going, but he has settled in to his playing time and his role,” he said.
A short 5-0 run from the Indians in the final period brought them within 16 points of the lead, but they couldn’t get any closer than that.
Brandon Payne led the Indians with 13 points, but he scored 12 of those in the first half.
Brooks said without Payne’s early production, the game could have gotten worse.
“Brandon really saved us there early,” he said. “He was assertive, especially when we were down (early). I think he figured out it was time for him to do something and get us going, and he was leading us there.”
The Trojans, meanwhile, featured a balanced attack of Marcus Fillyaw, D.J. Johnson and Evan Robinson, who combined to score 46 points and knocked down six 3s.
The Indians, who have posted some solid defensive games this season, were unable to slow down the athletic and talented Trojans.
“I think at times we lose focus and that’s not good, but we battled and made some runs,” he said. “We just had a hard time defensively with their size and with Fillyaw.”
Topeka showed its talent and athleticism early on, opening the contest on a 7-0 run. Payne dropped in a 3-pointer with 5:23 to play in the quarter to give the Indians their first basket of the game, but Robinson scored his second 3 of the game to make it 10-3.
Brooks said they just couldn’t overcome the slow start.
“We talked about getting off to a good start and really being physical, and I really didn’t think we started off that way,” he said. “It took them getting to that 7-0 lead for us to really wake up and figure something out that we need to play hard and be physical, we can’t start like that.”
The Indians made a comeback with a 6-0 run to make it 15-11, but the Trojans used a 10-0 run in the final 2 minutes to build up a 25-11 lead. Robinson and Fillyaw both led the way in the late run with 3s.
After a Fillyaw basket to open the second quarter, the Indians went on an 8-0 run with four points from John Perbeck to cut the Trojans’ lead to eight points.
Manhattan pulled as close as five points before Topeka closed out the last 1:30 of the half with an 8-2 run.
The Indians will travel in the opening game of sub-state next Thursday, playing at Derby.
TOPEKA HIGH 64, MANHATTAN 42
Manhattan 11 15 7 9 — 42
Topeka 25 12 15 12 — 64
MANHATTAN (42) — Payne 13, Stephens 9, Burton 5, Hudgins 5, Perbeck 4, Holloway 2, Taylor 2, Barragar 2.
TOPEKA (64) — Fillyaw 18, Johnson 15, Robinson 13, Solis 8, Downing 6, Sanders 4, Dawson 2.
3-pointers — Manhattan 2 (Payne 2). Topeka 7 (Robinson 4, Fillyaw 2, Sanders).