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After sluggish start, Hays High boys win conference opener

By TYLER PARKS

sports@dailynews.net

LIBERAL -- After a 15-day layoff for winter break, the Hays High School boys' basketball team opened conference play with a win Friday against Liberal.

It was a tale of two halves for the Indians, a team that struggled to get anything going in the first half, then looked poised and driven in the second half -- more like the way the team has played most of the year.

A strong third quarter pushed the Indians out of reach and gave them a 68-50 victory to move to 7-0, 1-0 in the Western Athletic Conference.

The Indians started out flat, committing five turnovers in their first six possessions of the game. Good defense and two late threes from junior Jordan Windholz in the first quarter helped the Indians stay close.

The second quarter wasn't much better for the Indians, who went into the half trailing 27-24.

"I think if people had just watched the first half we were impatient and we weren't very unselfish, we didn't trust our teammates to do anything, so we just threw shots up," Indian coach Rick Keltner said. "Liberal played great defense and if a team is playing good defense, if they get back on you and you throw the ball away on one, two or three passes which we did in the first quarter then you shot yourself in the foot."

After a sluggish first half, the Indians came out firing on all cylinders, mounting a 14-0 run to start the third quarter and never looked back. Hays High outscored the Redskins 24-5 in the quarter.

"Our goal in the second half was to run our fast break and if we didn't score on the break to make sure we didn't throw the ball away on our first three or four passes and give someone a shot and I thought we did that better, obviously," Keltner said.

Defense was key for the Indians. Liberal hit just 8 of 26 from the field after the break.

Sophomore Brady Werth led the team with 20 points, 12 coming in the third quarter. He also added seven blocks and seven rebounds.

Werth also drew six shooting fouls in the first three quarters, scoring eight points from the free throw line and keeping Liberal's big men in foul trouble and on the bench for most of the second half.

Windholz was the only other Indian in double figures with 12 points.

Senior Adam Deterding added eight points and five rebounds, while junior Kade Parker finished with nine point and two rebounds.

Hays High's 7-0 start matches the 1995-96 season. The Indians will travel to Great Bend on Tuesday to face the WAC rival Panthers (1-5).