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Hays High girls fall down early, lose to Colby on road

By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

COLBY -- It was a tale of two halves for the Hays High School girls' basketball team.

Unfortunately for the Indians, as good as the second half was, the first half was just a little worse.

After defeating Colby 43-33 seven days earlier in the first round of the Hays City Shoot-Out, Hays High struggled in its second bout with the Eagles.

Despite storming back from a 15-point halftime deficit, the Indians ended up losing 43-38 on Thursday at the Colby Community Building.

"They are at home, and things are going to go their way," said Hays High head coach Kirk Maska. "We started slow and got way behind. I'm proud of how hard they worked to get back in the game, but we just didn't get it done."

The two squads now are each 2-2.

Hays High started the season hot, going 2-1 and finishing third at the Hays City Shoot-Out, while Colby struggled, placing seventh at the opening tournament.

"It was kind of stepping stone to find out where we were," said Colby head coach Parker McKee. "Hays came out and kind of put the beating to us in the first game. For us to hang tough and put together a good-quality win against a good-quality opponent says a lot about where the kids are with their progress."

Colby led 28-13 at halftime following a solid shooting display -- 12 of 21 from the field. The Eagles also forced 11 Hays High first-half turnovers compared to just six of their own.

It also didn't help that Hays High couldn't make free throws in the first half, converting just 6 of 14 in the first half.

It was a dismal display, especially since the Indians made 21 of 27 in the third-place game of the Shoot-Out.

"The biggest thing was we weren't timid like we were last time," McKee said. "We played loose and relaxed. For the most part, our seniors allowed the game to come to them. When they do that, I guess they can play pretty good."

The Indians stormed back in the second half and outscored Colby by 12 in the third quarter to narrow the Eagles' lead.

Hays High senior guard Kaitlin Gulley had a lot to do with the comeback, shooting 4 of 6 in the third quarter. Gulley finished with a team-high 12 points.

"We really wanted to win," Gulley said. "We wanted to come back, because we won against them last time. We really wanted to go back and show them what we were made of."

Hays High managed to tie the game at 32 with seven minutes and 12 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, but Hays High got cold again, missing its next seven shots.

Meanwhile, Colby edged itself back ahead of Hays High and made 6 of 7 free throws in the final minute to seal it.

"At the end of the game, we got back to that panic mode, and they made free throws and we didn't," Maska said.

Colby senior guard Kenzie Curry, who led her squad with 18 points, was instrumental in the win, especially at the end -- sinking 4 of 4 from the foul line.

"When you've got a lead, you don't want to step to the line saying 'What if I miss?' " McKee said. "(Curry's) not one of those what-if players. She just has confidence in herself. I think that's why she had a good game tonight."

Curry said retaliation "definitely" was a motivating factor for the Eagles.

"Our main goal was to come out better than we did the first time," she said. "I think we did that."

Gulley was the only Indian to reach double figures. Senior point guard Janae Gagnon had 7 on 2-of-10 shooting, and senior forwards Taylor Herman and Katelyn Schumacher each finished with 6 points on limited chances. Herman was 3 of 4 from the field, and Schumacher, the team's lone returning all-WAC player, posted just three shots and made one. However, Schumacher led the team in rebounding with eight.

Curry led Colby, but senior Lauren Bell posted 10 points and junior Haileigh Shull added 9.

"It's a good win for us, because I respect Maska and the program and what he's done the last two years," McKee said.