Defense and physicality reigned supreme in a low-scoring battle in which Hayden held off a pesky Manhattan team, 51-48.

There was no clear runaway favorite between Manhattan and Hayden in Topeka on Friday evening.

JacobPadillaHayden junior Jacob Padilla came up big at the free throw line as the Wildcats edged Manhattan Friday night, 51-48. [File photo/TSN]

In the four-quarter contest, the most significant lead of the game was a 6-point advantage by Hayden in the second half.

The game came down to Hayden guard Jacob Padilla's free throws, in which he nailed five of six free opportunities.

"Jacob has shot it well all year," Hayden coach Dwayne Paul said. "You can go back and see – it doesn't matter which game it was, (Padilla's) been like that. (Padilla's) a gamer. Jacob likes the moment. There wasn't anyone I'd rather have on the line. I know (Padilla) wanted the moment. I didn't hesitate when (Padilla) went to hit the free throws."

It took every last ounce of energy from Hayden to seal the deal against a Manhattan team that plays intense and physical defense just like the Wildcats.

"No matter what happened, good or bad, I thought the guys did a good job locking in," Paul said. "We were able to play man-to-man, switch our defenses and keep (Manhattan) on their toes a little bit. Kudos to (Manhattan); they're a great team. You're not going to stop good teams like (Manhattan)."

Manhattan, who came into the game on a three-game skid, came out dull in the first three minutes allowing Hayden to jump in front, 6-2. Manhattan's offense responded with a 12-6 run. 6-foot-6 senior Jack Wilson led the Indians with five points, while junior Jason Kim had four.

Manhattan held a 14-12 lead at the end of the first quarter. Notre Dame football signee Joe Otting had nine of Hayden's 12 points.

"Not everyone can say they have these big-time players like Joe (Otting)," Paul said. "Because we get to have him around, we are able to have success."

Manhattan had to make some adjustments to Otting's dominant presence.

"Starting off, we were going to play our normal defense, but he had nine of (Hayden's) first 12 points, and so we weren't going to let that continue," Manhattan coach Benji George said. "We came out in a diamond, and we just tagged him everywhere (Otting) went. I thought after the first quarter; we were effective in neutralizing (Otting)."

The second quarter was just as tight as the first. Efficient shooting, terrific interior play and hounding defense from both squads kept the game close.

It was a battle of the big men, with Wilson and Otting brutalizing each other in the paint. Wilson finished the first half with nine points, and Otting finished with 11.

Luckily for Manhattan, Hayden hurt themselves when the Indians gave them opportunities at the free-throw line in the first half. The Wildcats shot a brutal four of 11 from the charity stripe.

The Indians' focus was getting the ball away from Otting.

"We were daring other (Hayden) players to step up, take some shots and make plays, which is what they did; credit to them," George said. "The thing that I think hurt us was (Hayden) drove the basketball on us. We were allowing them to drive more than we needed it to be, and it was breaking us down defensively."

With a 24-24 tie at the halftime break, Hayden shot 53 percent (nine of 17) from the field, while Manhattan shot 43 percent (nine of 21).

The scoring was sparse for both teams in the third quarter. In the 3:56 of the period, Hayden outscored Manhattan 4-3.

Manhattan gained its first lead since its 6-0 run in the first quarter with a Landon Knopp 3-pointer with 29.9 left in the third quarter.

The Indians had some momentum as they entered the timeout before the fourth quarter started.

After a 4-0 Manhattan run from four points from Wilson, Hayden responded with a 5-0 run before Manhattan took a timeout halting Hayden's momentum at the 4:12 mark of the final quarter.

Hayden couldn't be stopped. The Wildcats shot a perfect five of five in the fourth quarter and got in front again with a 46-41 lead over Manhattan with 2:01 left in the game, the largest of the night.

With Manhattan down by six points after a Hayden free throw, the Indians got the ball to Knopp in the far right corner, and he drilled the shot with 56.0 left in the game. The Indians decreased the deficit to 48-45.

Hayden and Manhattan got tied up on a loose ball with 29.2 seconds, with the Wildcats leading 48-45. The tie-up led to both squads getting charged with technical fouls, adding spice to the ending.

 Padilla hit both of his free throws, while Wilson hit just one of two for the Indians, putting MHS down four.

"It's that small man syndrome," Paul said. "That's Jacob (Padilla), though; he's passionate."

With a 50-48 Hayden lead with 12 seconds left, Manhattan was forced to foul. Padilla was sent to the line again and hit just one of his free throws.

Manhattan had an opportunity to tie at the buzzer, but Knopp could not make the shot, and Hayden walked away with the win.

"Kind of the same story, we're not winning moments," George said. "Those crucial moments late in the game that we won earlier in the year when we went against teams like (Washburn) Rural and Shawnee Mission East… the tide's kind of turning now. When the winning moments needed to happen, we didn't step up to the plate tonight."

Hayden's ability not to panic and weather the storm made this contest stand out as one of its best in the 2022-2023 campaign.

"We just have to keep getting better in practice," Paul said. "Tomorrow and Monday, you have to work mentally. At the end of the day, we now have a game Tuesday, a game Friday, and another game Monday, Tuesday and Friday… so you don't have time to have these two-hour practices. Your habits are going to carry you from this moment going on."


Manhattan (8-7) – 14 10 10 14 – 48

Hayden (7-6) – 12 12 9 18 – 51

Manhattan (8-7) –  Kim 1-6 4-6 6, Delort 2-5 0-0 5, Schartz 1-1 0-0 2, Elumogo 1-3 3-4 5, Wilson 8-14 1-3 19, McNabb 0-1 0-0 0, Knopp 3-7 0-0 8, Braxmeyer 1-3 0-0 3, Stanard 0-1 0-0 0. Totals – Total: 17-39 8-13 48.

Hayden (7-6) – Padilla 1-4 5-6 7, Muller 3-7 2-3 9, Ham 2-3 0-1 4, Cameron 3-3 0-2 6, Otting 6-9 2-4 14, McGibboney 1-4 2-5 5, Ridley 1-3 0-0 3, Colboch 1-2 0-0 3. Total: 18-34, 11-20 51.

3-point goals – Hayden 4 (Muller, Colbach, McGibboney, Ridley), Manhattan 6 (Wilson 3, Delort, Knopp, Braxmeyer). Total fouls – Hayden 14, Manhattan 20. Fouled out – Manhattan (Elumogo). Technical fouls – Hayden (Padilla), Manhattan (Wilson).