HAYS — With Dodge City on Hays High’s heels for most of the way Friday night, the Indian boys couldn't afford to have much of an offensive lull.
A balanced and timely offensive attack made sure that never happened for Hays High.
Hays answered each one of the Red Demons’ spurts before putting Dodge away in the fourth quarter to notch a 75-63 win at Hays High.
“I was proud of the way the guys answered,” Hays coach Rick Keltner said. “I really think we’ve been getting better the last couple weeks; of course we had a frustrating one the other night (overtime loss at Salina South). But I’m so proud of these guys. We just got to keep working.
“When they made shots, we had numerous guys make big plays for us.”
Senior Tradgon McCrae and sophomore T.J Nunnery shared team-high honors with 16 points each. McCrae helped Hays build a cushion in the first half and Nunnery helped the Indians close the deal with seven big points in the fourth quarter after Hays went into the final frame with just a two-point lead.
“Tradgon’s obviously been a leader for our team, and then T.J. Nunnery did some prime-time stuff for us, and (so did) Trey Adams,” Keltner said. “Cade Swyane plays great defense and worked his tail off, and Braiden Meyers hit some big shots. Dylan Ruder came off the bench and hit a big-time post move in crunch time. Tucker Johnson brings energy.
“It was a team win.”
The Indians (7-6, 2-1 Western Athletic Conference) went on an 11-0 run in the first quarter and led 19-15 at the end of the first. The second quarter went back and forth with Dodge grabbing a 29-28 lead with 2:46 left before Hays reeled off the last nine points of the half to take a 37-29 lead into the break.
Hays led by as much as 12 early in the third quarter but Dodge City closed the third frame with a 11-4 spurt to cut the lead to 54-52 heading to the fourth.
Nunnery opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer to push the lead to five and Hays never relinquished the lead. The Red Demons (7-7, 1-2 WAC) were still within six with 2:18 left but a dunk from Trey Adams helped the Indians stay in control/
Keltner said he was encouraged by the way the Indians closed out the game after losing a 15-point lead against Salina South on Tuesday.
“We probably had a split second of deja vu when we had that lead late and had a couple turnovers in a row; that’s kind of how things started the other night,” Keltner said. “Then we had guys step up and make plays. I think that shows a sign of a team maturing.”
Adams and Meyers joined McCrae and Nunnery in double figures with 10 points each.
Dodge City’s Noah Sowers scored a game-high 22 points for the Red Demons while Matt Friess chipped in 10.
“Both teams played hard tonight,” Keltner said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for Dodge.”
The Indians will turn around to play host to Garden City on Saturday in a makeup game from last month's weather postponement.
“The next game is always our biggest game of the year for us,” Keltner said. “This was a big game. but (Saturday’s) the biggest game of the year. We play Garden City and we’ve got to be ready to play.”