TOPEKA — Despite a double-digit deficit, the Manhattan High boys’ basketball team didn’t stop fighting on Thursday night.
Down 26-10 at halftime, the Indians made a run at the lead in the second half and pulled within nine points of the lead. But the Trojans were too much in the end, as they ended Manhattan’s season with a 41-26 win in the first round of sub-state.
The Indians outscored Topeka 4-3 in the third quarter, nearly holding the Trojans scoreless before J’Shavon Hendricks knocked down a 3-pointer to push the Trojans’ lead out to 29-14 before the end of the period.
Manhattan High coach Tim Brooks said the third quarter gave his team a chance to make a run back into the game.
“Defensively in the third quarter I think we held them to three points — just great defense,” he said. “We were active, we were reading where they were throwing their passes and we got some things going offensively. We got out on the break a couple times and cut into the lead.”
Manhattan opened the fourth quarter on a 6-0 run to cut the lead to 29-20, but Topeka’s D.J. Johnson led a 4-1 scoring run on his own to put the Indians away for good.
Brooks praised his team for its defensive effort.
“You can’t fault our kids efforts,” he said. “Defensively I thought we were great, aside from not blocking out a time or two, and for us to cut the score for them down 23 from last time says a lot about our kids’ heart and character.”
Deante Burton led the Indians in scoring with eight points, while Brandon Payne finished with seven. Topeka High’s Raymond Solis was the only player in double figures with 10.
It took nearly four minutes for the Indians to score in the first quarter, and by then Topeka had already scored two baskets and hit a free throw to lead 5-2. The Trojans pushed their lead out to as much as 9-2 before a Payne free throw and a Jacob Sobering basket got it down to 9-5 before the second quarter.
Manhattan would score just five points again in the second period, while the Trojans added 17 to their cause.
A 3 from Hendricks and a basket from Johnson pushed the lead out to 14-5. The Indians made one-of-two free throws in all three trips in the quarter as the Trojans led 26-8 before the Indians hit their first field goal with 1:18 left on a layup from Burton.
Brooks acknowledged that his team was strongest at defense this season, and didn’t always find the needed success on the offensive end.
“Offensively, we struggled most of the year,” he said. “Hopefully teams in the future will shore that up, but you can’t fault these kids’ efforts.”
Brooks said Johnson, a 6-foot-7 senior forward for the Trojans, did a lot of damage early in the game.
“It was really tough,” he said. “We had a number of shots blocked inside early — with contact I thought. If they call it and get Johnson in foul trouble, the game’s played differently because he is pretty good for them out there.”
Brooks said he spoke with the team after the game about their accomplishments during the season, and particularly in the careers of the seven seniors who played their final game.
“We talked about what they had given us over the years,” he said. “Hopefully they can look back on the experience and think that it was worthwhile — I think that they will.
“They had some really good times and even though we didn’t have a winning record, there was a camaraderie and chemistry most of the year, and when team’s get along they are fun to be around.”
TOPEKA HIGH 41, MHS 26
Manhattan 5 5 4 12 — 26
Topeka High 9 17 3 12 — 41
MANHATTAN (26) — Burton 8, Payne 7, Perbeck 3, Sobering 2, Holloway 2, Stephens 2, Barragar 2.
TOPEKA HIGH (41) — Solis 10, Hendricks 8, Johnson 6, Downing 6, Dawson 4, Fillyaw 4, Jacob 2, Robinson 1.
3-pointers — Manhattan none. Topeka High 2 (Hendricks 2).