Revenge: Boys beat Highland Park on Senior Night

Jacob Clanton, Sports Editor

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In high school and collegiate athletics, senior night is a night loved by all. It’s a chance to honor those players who have stuck it out for four years; players who have given their hearts and souls to the team. Winning the game only adds to the story. When that win is revenge for a previous loss, the story writes itself.

“You couldn’t write a better story,” senior Luke Saville said. “I mean, coming back and getting redemption on a team that’s beat us in league, it means everything. It’s a great feeling to get a win.”

Manhattan High (14-4, 9-2 Centennial League) capped senior night festivities by beating Highland Park (10-8, 7-4 Centennial League) 64-51. With the win, MHS stays in a tie for the league lead.

The game opened to a back-and-forth affair, before Manhattan went on a 10-3 run, leading to a 21-12 lead after the first quarter. The run was highlighted by senior Ian Trapp’s dunk, as Trapp would go on to score 16 points, a career high.

“In our earlier matchup this season I kind of felt like I wasn’t really there and I didn’t really contribute all that much,” Trapp said. “I kind of wanted to fix that, and kind of just being in the right place at the right time and giving 100 percent I guess, a little bit cliche, but you know, just got to go all out.”

Trapp was the second-highest scorer on the team, as senior Trevor Hudgins led the way with 25 points.

The second quarter continued the back-and-forth affair, as the Scots closed the gap to six points midway through the quarter. As the quarter winded down, Highland had the ball with a real chance to make a last-second shot. It was unable to connect though, as Manhattan took a 33-25 lead into the half.

Once the teams came back out, the trouble started. HP came roaring out of the gate, jumping out to a 10-2 run to tie the game up at 35-all. The tie didn’t last long, as Saville broke the lead in Manhattan’s favor with a layup off of a smart pass from senior Tommy Ekart. A timeout just before the tie also helped the Indians to stop the run.

“We just reminded ourselves that it’s senior night,” Hudgins said. “[It’s the] last time on this home court, maybe, and we just got to go hard. We got to go hard for the people that are here, the loved ones that give up their time to come support us, and just finish out the right way.”

MHS wouldn’t stop with Saville’s layup, going on a 9-7 run to end the quarter. Mental mistakes kept the score close, with Manhattan leading 46-42.

A major issue for the Indians in the third quarter was the lack of senior center Cade Roberts. Roberts received three fouls early in the half and was forced to sit for much of the third.

“I get a little into the game sometimes,” Roberts said. “A couple of the fouls of course weren’t fouls in my eyes … and I had to take a moment and go walk into the locker room to calm myself down.”

In Roberts’ place, senior Josh Haus stepped up and helped the team succeed without Roberts on the floor.

“I knew the team needed me,” Haus said. “I was like, ‘I need to step up.’ That’s what [was going] through my head, so luckily I was able to do that.”

The fourth quarter opened as a defensive affair before Manhattan started to pull away in the final minutes of the game.

“I just thought we were a tough team for the whole 32 minutes,” head coach Benji George said, “and we stayed the course, and overcame some mental mistakes early in the third quarter and again, at the end of the game, just tying together stops. I thought that was huge.”

The Indians hit clutch free throws, running to a double-digit lead. With such a large lead, George was able to take the seniors out of the game one final time, with 31 seconds left in the game. Saville, Roberts, Hudgins and Ekart left the floor to a standing ovation.

“It’s definitely a moment,” Roberts said. “It’s definitely been a great experience playing here at Manhattan, and it’s something I’ll never forget. I’m so lucky to have a coach and the other seniors to play with and hopefully go further.”

A key to MHS’ victory was its ability to hold Highland Park’s offensive weapons to only 51 points.

“You hold a team like that,” George said, “with that many offensive weapons that can drive and kick and all that to 51, I told them, ‘That’s the pathway to our promise land.’ I was incredibly proud of our defense tonight.”

Though Manhattan has the possibility of more home games in sub-state, it will not find out until next week, meaning this game could be the final one at home for the six seniors.

“It’s kind of sad,” Haus said. “Going through like all four years, I’ve always thought about being a senior and getting to play here and to know it could be over, you know, it’s real sad.”

First though, MHS has to finish out the regular season. Its next game is Tuesday at rival Junction City, a team it beat 57-30 early in the season.

“We’re always ready for JC,” Ekart said, “but I mean, it’s always a tough game there, so we’ll see how it goes.”