Manhattan boys fall in OT 51-44 in opening round of state tourney

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The Manhattan boys basketball team fought back from a double-digit deficit at halftime to force Lawrence to overtime, but it wasn’t enough. The Indians, in their first 6A state tournament appearance since 2010, fell 51-44 in Wichita’s Koch Arena.

MHS, the No. 2 seed in the bracket, struggled out of the gate.

Lawrence (16-7) came into the tournament as the No. 7 seed, but led 14-5 after the first quarter and 26-15 at the break. The Indians (18-5) recovered to start the second half and outscored Lawrence 13-4 in the third quarter.

The contest was tied with a second left in regulation and MHS went to the free throw line to shoot two shots, but both missed.

Lawrence seized the opportunity in the overtime period. The Lions pulled down key rebounds and outscored MHS 12-5 to hold on for the upset.

“We can definitely be proud of how we fought in that second half,” Manhattan head coach Benji George told KMAN’s John Kurtz after the game in Wichita. “We were just so shell-shocked during the first 16 minutes.”

The Indians were led by senior Trevor Hudgins with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Fellow senior Tommy Ekart was Manhattan’s next highest scorer with nine points.

Lawrence’s Kobe Buffalomeat, a 6-foot-7, 300-pound senior signed to play football for Illinois State and seen on Jimmy Kimmel in February, led the game with 23 points and was 9-of-10 from the floor. He also pulled down seven boards.

Lawrence was 17-of-40 from the floor, good for 43 percent. Manhattan shot 16-of-39, good for 41 percent.

But it was the charity stripe that wasn’t so charitable for the Indians. MHS just made 10-of-21 shots there, while the Lions were 16-of-23.

The Indians also lost the rebound battle, 35-19.

“No. 1 is the first 16 minutes of the game, and that’s on me,” George said. “But it was a lot of things, and then the free throw line — the free throw line killed us. And it wasn’t the last two (of regulation), it was the entire game.”

George said an early exit wasn’t what he wanted for his seniors, but said the loss doesn’t take away from their accomplishments, which include back-to-back-to-back league titles and a 54-12 record over a three year span — both marks best in school history.

“I wish I could just hold on to these seniors and tell them how much I love them,” George said. “But the ride has come to an end. I’m so proud of these seniors. They’ve done things that have never been done in Manhattan high basketball.”

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Brady Bauman

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