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HHS completes sweep of Dodge

By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

DODGE CITY -- If any team could be used as a measuring stick for the progress of the Hays High School girls' basketball team, Dodge City would be the team.

The Indians have played Dodge City (5-14, 1-6 WAC) three times this season, and each time, the result has been more and more in the Indians' favor.

Hays High concluded the series Friday at Dodge City and left with a lopsided 56-38 victory.

The Indians improved to 9-10 overall and 4-3 in the Western Athletic Conference.

"I think we've gotten better and started gelling," said senior forward Katelyn Schumacher. "It's not such a struggle to get warm for games and stuff."

In the two previous meetings, Hays High defeated Dodge City 44-42 on Jan. 15 on a last-second shot by Schumacher and 58-52 on Jan. 25 at the McPherson Invitational.

Unlike those games, it was never close Tuesday.

Hays High used a 10-0 opening run to create separation and never allowed Dodge City to get back in it. The closest the Red Demons came was narrowing the spread to five points with five and a half minutes remaining in the second quarter.

"The more you play a team, it gets a little bit tougher to play them, and we are on the road," said Hays High head coach Kirk Maska. "We tried to get out with a lot of energy early, and I thought we did a good job."

Hays High has executed well down the stretch of the season.

Since losing to Salina Central on Feb. 5, Hays High has shot 42 percent or better in its past four games and won three of the past four.

"That's how I thought we'd be shooting all year," Maska said. "Hopefully, we are finding it at the right time."

However, on Tuesday, the Indians reached its season peak in shooting efficiency. Hays High made a season-high 57.9 percent of its shots -- well above the season average of 37.3 percent.

"I thought we made the extra pass that caused us to find the open man and get a lot of nice, easy shots," Maska said.

Schumacher led the Indians with 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting and six rebounds, but it wasn't just Schumacher hitting shots.

All but one of Hays High's seven senior girls made two or more baskets in the game.

Forward Taylor Herman finished 4 of 7 for 10 points, and forward Emily Braun contributed nine points on 4-of-5 shooting.

Guards April Johnson and Kaitlin Gulley each added six, and point guard Janae Gagnon scored four points. Guard Megan Bird was the lone senior to not make two field goals, but her one make was a 3-pointer.

"That's what makes it hard to defend when you've got all seven seniors contributing," Maska said.

The Indians finished with 15 turnovers -- below the average (18.4).

"I think we are feeling more comfortable, getting more used to our teammates and going hard and straight at (opponents)," Schumacher said.

Meanwhile, Dodge City struggled to keep up.

Late in the game, the Red Demons resorted to shooting 3-pointers, and it tanked their shooting percentage. Dodge City finished 15 of 49 from the field and 3 of 18 from beyond the arc.

Senior Alexis Sanchez led the Red Demons with 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting.

Hays High will conclude its season with a rivalry game against Great Bend (13-6, 5-2) on Friday at the HHS gym.

"I was kind of disappointed we didn't have a little better results with the lead going into the fourth quarter against Garden City, and I would have loved to have the Salina South game back," said Maska regarding close losses to good teams in the second half of the season. "But we played two really good teams close, and now we are beating teams we probably should be beating.

"I'm excited to get Great Bend on Friday and try to build upon what we've been doing," he added.