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HHS girls travel to Salina

By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

The Hays High School girls' basketball team will get a second chance versus a ranked squad it let a win slip away against earlier in the season.

The Indians (9-10), No. 7 seed, will travel to No. 2 seed Salina South, ranked No. 8 in Class 5A, on Wednesday for the first round of its sub-state tournament. The tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Hays High led for nearly the entire game in the two team's earlier matchup Jan. 29 at Salina South, but the Cougars tied it up and won it in overtime.

Hays High head coach Kirk Maska said their earlier game showed his squad can keep up with Salina South (14-5).

"If we play to our capabilities, we have a chance," Maska said.

The Indians have played some of their best basketball down the final stretch, and it started with its near-victory against South.

Since then, Hays High has won three of five, and played competitively with Garden City, the Western Athletic Conference champions, in one of those losses.

"I think we've played like I thought we were going to play all year around," Maska said. "I was kind of disappointed with the way we finished against Salina South and Garden City. ... Maybe we've learned a few little things from those."

It's an extremely competitive sub-state tournament with three ranked squads and six teams boasting winning records, but fortunately for Hays High, its eight team sub-state is broken into two brackets. Hays High was placed in Bracket B, and two of the ranked teams are in Bracket A.

To get to state, Hays High will have to upset Salina South and then defeat the winner of Great Bend (13-6) and Maize South (11-9).

Its a challenge, but not one Hays High's senior-laden squad shouldn't be up for, Maska said.

"They'd like to play as long as they could," Maska said. "I think there is going to be a sense of urgency. They are going to play with passion and pride. ... I'm kind of excited about our chances."

Salina South should present quite the challenge, though.

Led by senior point guard Megan Holloway, the Cougars have compiled a strong season. However, they've struggled recently, losing three of their past five games, but all of those losses were to ranked teams.

Maska said his team will have to do what it did last time in order to have a shot, but his players will have to keep it up late in the game as well -- something he thought they've struggled with, especially against South and Garden City.

"I just think when you watch film, they seem a little more tentative and not as take charge as you saw for most of the game," Maska said. "Hopefully, talking about it, we won't change up things and play like we had been for the entire game."