When Manhattan came out in a zone defense Wednesday night, Southeast looked unsure. They made multiple passes, but too often settled for a quick jumper.
Such a start was exactly what coach Carl Taylor didn't want to see in the Class 6A boys sub-state semifinal at Southeast.
"We talked about it at the end of the first quarter," Southeast senior Reggie Williams said. "We had to play better than that. ... Coach kept telling me to attack the zone, that's the key."
Southeast listened, rolling to a 72-52 victory, the Buffaloes' sixth straight. Southeast (13-8) plays Heights in the sub-state final on Friday at Washburn Rural.
Southeast, trailing 15-11 early in the second quarter, quit taking jumpers and started driving inside.
Williams, who finished with 16 points, scored on an offensive rebound and then had a driving layup to even the score.
"Reggie runs the ballclub," Taylor said. "He's quick. People don't realize that. He makes fairly good decisions for the most part."
With 4:59 to go in the first half, Kaheem Ransom hit a three-pointer to give Southeast a lead it didn't lose.
"I kept trying to get as deep as I could to find open teammates," Williams said. "Hopefully they make the shots, and we hit some shots this game."
Southeast made seven jumpers, but the Buffaloes lived in the lane — they had eight putbacks, seven driving layups, two baskets in the lane and a fastbreak basket.
After scoring 11 first-quarter points, Southeast scored 61 in the final three periods. The Buffaloes held Manhattan to 17 points over the second and third quarters.
Southeast's defense held Manhattan senior Connor Brooks in check, too. While he scored 18 points, he was 0 of 6 from three and 4 of 17 overall.
Southeast's leading scorer, Gavin Thurman, who had nine of his 10 points in the first half, spent most of the second half on the bench in foul trouble.
"The team picked it up," Taylor said. "They rebounded as a team.... That's what it's all about."
Southeast was led by Williams and Hayden Harris, who had 16 points and seven rebounds. Kevin Gunter and Thurman each had six rebounds, while Troy Brooks and D'Avonte Garland scored eight apiece.
"Coach tells us all the time that we can't depend on Gavin," Williams said. "We knew we had to step up. ... When I saw him go out (with foul trouble), I knew I had to step up and make some plays happen because that's our go-to guy."
Manhattan (12-9) 11 9 8 24—52 Southeast (13-8) 11 17 16 28—72
MANHATTAN: Brooks 4 10-12 18, Ty. Francis 0 0-0 0, Connet 2 0-0 4, Burton 2 2-2 6, Wilkinson 1 3-4 5, Kern 2 0-4 4, Payne 3 3-4 11, Tr. Francis 1 0-0 2, Taylor 1 0-0 2. Totals 16 (2) 18-26 52.
SOUTHEAST: Harris 5 6-9 16, Gunter 2 2-2 6, Thurman 4 1-2 10, Brooks 3 2-7 8, Williams 7 2-2 16, Ransom 1 2-3 5, Garland 2 3-3 8, Oyugi 1 1-1 3. Totals 25 (3) 19-29 72.