HHS to state: Indians face tall task -- Lansing
Published on -3/6/2013, 10:01 AM
By KLINT SPILLER
Hays High School boys' basketball coach Rick Keltner realizes many in the state consider the Indians to be underdogs against Lansing, the No. 2-ranked squad in Class 5A, in the first round of the state tournament.
Lansing (20-1) has lost just once this year, and that 62-55 loss came Jan. 8 at Kansas City-Piper, ranked No. 10 in Class 4A. Since then, Lansing has won its last 13 games.
"If you look at records, I'm sure the Vegas oddmakers would make us the underdog," Keltner said.
However, Keltner said he doesn't put too much stock in who is considered the favorite.
"I think it is such a great game that I never consider anybody to be the favorite," Keltner said. "Like TCU beat KU. Some of that stuff kind of happens in games. I think anything can happen in games. I've never felt like we couldn't win, and I never went into a game thinking we could win easily. You've got to earn it."
Hays High (14-7) will have a chance to earn a victory Thursday at the Expocentre in Topeka.
The Indians are making their first trip to state since 2003. This is Hays High's eighth trip to state and Keltner's fifth with the Indians.
It was a significant turn around this season.
Hays High suffered its first losing season in 13 years last season, going 6-15 with a senior-less squad. The Indians not only have more than doubled their win total, but they broke a 10-year state appearance drought.
"It feels great," said Hays High senior Nick Petz. "It's special. Not many people get the opportunity to go to state, and we are here now, so we've got to finish."
Keltner made it past the first round in each of his first three trips to state, but in 2003, the Indians lost and didn't survive to the weekend.
It's a feeling he said he doesn't want to have to share with this year's squad.
"It's not as good of a feeling when you only get to go one day," Keltner said. "You hope to play for three days, but to do that, we've got to try and be 1-0."
Lansing should present quite the test. Game time is 6:30 p.m.
The Lions don't put up prolific numbers, but they win ball games. They are making their third straight trip to the state tournament, finishing fourth the past two seasons.
Lansing junior Joe Schneider leads his squad in scoring with 13.4 points per game.
Senior center Clay Young, who stands 6-foot-5, averages 9.1 points and 4.0 rebounds, and Lansing has five other players who average between five to seven points a game.
"They are an explosive team," Keltner said. "Looking at some of their games, they'll be in a close game and then they'll have a big quarter. ... I think it's important to not give them any big quarters and hang with them."
Defensively, Keltner said Lansing runs an aggressive man-to-man defense and mixes in some 1-3-1 zone as well.
"They'll be like Liberal, our coach said," Petz said. "They'll be aggressive. They'll get up on you and pressure, but we've just got to take care of the ball and we'll be OK."
Hays High has played some of its best basketball down the final stretch.
The Indians defeated Great Bend 49-20 and Liberal 73-64, and against Liberal, four players scored in double figures.
Keltner said that solid team play will have to continue at Topeka.
"For us to be successful at the state tournament, I don't care who it is, but somebody with a Hays shirt on has got to make plays for us," he said.