GREAT BEND — State-ranked Class 6A Manhattan High was rolling along, on target to repeat an easy 16-point victory over the Great Bend Panthers.
The Indians built a 16-point lead when Manhattan’s 6-foot-6 Pierson McAtee scored on a rebound basket for a 31-15 lead.
But the underdog Panthers held the Indians without a field goal for eight minutes to hang tough in a 47-36 loss Friday in a non-league basketball game.
The Panthers battled to a 4-4 tie in the third quarter that featured lockdown defense by both teams for 33-19 deficit after three periods.
Panther Blake Sullivan drilled a 3-pointer to spark a fourth-quarter rally. The Panthers missed three free throws and turned it over twice when the Indians missed a pair of bonus free throws. The Indians converted their final six free throws.
Great Bend coach Chris Battin was proud of his 2-10 Panthers which battled the No. 4 ranked Indians, a quick and athletic team that features height across the board. The Indians controlled the boards and blocked more than a half-dozen field goals.
“Our guys battle hard,” Battin said. “The second half, we kept getting defensive stops, but didn’t score. We had a hard time making shots. Our defense gave us a chance.”
Shade Wondra, the Panthers’ Mr. Hustle, led Great Bend with 11 points. Trey Ibarra and Cody Crosby each added seven points, but combined to make 2 of 17 field goal attempts.
Battin saw the Panthers kick their intensity up a notch when the student crowd got fired up after Sullivan’s 3-pointer.
“We just need to play with that energy for four quarters,” he said. “When Blake hit that shot, it was huge, and it was gave us some energy that we were looking for.”
Battin said it was impossible to simulate the Indians’ height in practice. The Panthers got to the line, but encountered a difficult time making field goals inside the paint.
“They’re long and athletic and you can see why they’re state-ranked,” Battin said. “We don’t see that height in practice, so it’s trial by fire. We took some bad shots in there.”
Great Bend outscored the Indians 15-6 from 3-point range. The Panthers converted five 3-pointers, four 2-pointers and 13 of 20 free throws. The Panthers made 9 of 40 field goals to shoot 22.5 percent.
The Panthers travel to Salina Central Tuesday before returning home Feb. 6 for Liberal and a winter homecoming game.
Manhattan (11-2) traveled to Great Bend for back-to-back games after beating Emporia 59-48 Thursday. The Indians turned the trick with good balance. Gabriel Aubrey led the way with 12 points and McAtee added 10 points. Nine Indians scored points and the Indians bench scored 19 points. Christian Carmichael blocked several shots in a reserve role.
“We knew the second half, we’d have to grind it out because we had tired bodies,” said Manhattan coach Benjamin George. “Our bench did a nice job tonight. Our goal was to play a lot of guys and get out with a win.”
George said the Indians typically play more minutes of full-court defense.
“We’re a good defensive team that has blocked a lot of shots,” George said.
The Indians took control early with an effective passing game and aggressive full-court defense. McAtee scored twice early and Manhattan led 10-2. Trey Ibarra nailed a 3-pointer, but the Panthers made 2 of 10 shots to trail 15-5 after one period.
“The first quarter was critical when our starters held Great Bend scoreless in the first quarter,” he said.
Wondra sparked the Panthers with a solid second quarter with seven points.
But the Indians’ balance and depth was too much for the shorter Panthers to handle. The Indians turned several turnovers into easy transition baskets. Eight Indians scored by halftime for a 29-15 lead.
High School Basketball
In Great Bend
MANHATTAN 47, GREAT BEND 36
Manhattan 15 14 4 14 — 47
Great Bend 5 10 4 17 — 36
Aubrey 3-8 6-6 12; McAtee 4-10 2-2 10; Garrett Francis 2-5 0-1 6; Ostermann 2-6 1-2 5; Munsen 2-4 0-0 4; Carmichael 2-3 0-1 4; Mallett 1-3 0-0 2; Ekart 0-2 0-0 0; Dillon 1-1 0-1 2; Hudgins 1-1 0-0 2; Gritton 0-2 0-2 0; Totals 18-43 9-14 47.
Wondra 4-11 2-2 11; Ibarra 1-5 4-4 7; Crosby 1-12 4-5 7; Sullivan 2-7 0-1 6; Smith 1-3 0-0 2; Bryant 0-0 3-8 3; Murray 0-2 0-0 0; Totals 9-40 13-20 36.