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Indian boys move to 6-0

By NICK McQUEEN

nmcqueen@dailynews.net

Another balanced attack. Another standout effort from its 6-foot-6 sophomore center.

Just par for the course so far in 2012-13 for the Hays High School boys' basketball team.

What some of the Indians this season aren't used to is early success in the wins column.

Six games in, the Indians have already matched last season's win total in a year when most of these guys were newcomers to the varsity level.

Hays High improved to 6-0 Thursday with a 79-41 dismantling of a struggling winless Pratt team at the HHS gym -- in the final game before the holiday break.

"Feels great knowing we're going into Christmas undefeated," said Werth, who scored 22 points for the second straight game.

Werth, who started as a freshman on last season's six-win team, raised his average to 15.3 points per game with his last two outings, and was hot early in Thursday's blowout.

Werth hit his first six shots before a miss in the second quarter.

By the end of the first, Werth had used several backside lobs from both senior Derek Bixenman and junior Kyler Niernberger to put up 10 points.

"It's a team game,"  said HHS coach Rick Keltner. "The post feeds are something that not everybody does well. "We do try to drill it," Keltner added. "It's kind of an art. Some kids are good at hitting the open hand. It's truly an art, and I think we're getting better."

By the end of the first quarter, Hays High had mounted a double-digit lead, while Pratt (0-6) banked on the 3-pointer to keep from getting run out of the gym. By the fourth quarter, though, the margin had reached 30 with a running clock.

Hays High missed just six shots inside the 3-point line in the first half to build a 41-18 lead.

"We want to get good shots inside and out and I thought we took good shots," Keltner said. "I don't know in the first half we shot the ball exceptionally well. I thought we left 10 points points on layups we didn't finish."

Still, Werth's 6 of 9 effort (including a missed open 3-pointer) was enough the Indians could coast in the second half.

"Everything was falling for us,"  Werth said. "We were getting good open looks."

Junior Jordan Windholz chipped in 15 points in the effort, with eight coming in a 26-point third quarter for Hays High.

Pratt did manage to put up 15 points in the third quarter, getting hot from 3-point range. Greenback junior Liam Kahmeyer had six of his team-high 12 points on 3s in the quarter.

"We've just been working harder in practice, getting better (shooting),"  Werth said. "Defense could probably be a little better."

Nine Indians scored in the win, while Werth and senior Adam Deterding combined for 11 rebounds and six blocked shots.

"We had a lot of kids contribute tonight," Keltner said. "We got better on some things. In the Junction game (a 84-64 win), we kept letting them enter the ball into the post too much. Tonight, we did a good job on that."

Last season, the Indians didn't get their sixth win until the final game of the regular season. Three of the Indians' six wins, though, have come against Colby and Pratt, two winless squads.

"We don't talk about last year," Keltner said. "If we had won a state championship we wouldn't be talking about it. This is a different team,"  he added. "I truly think they're getting better."

Hays High is off until Jan. 4 when they travel to Liberal to begin Western Athletic Conference play.