HHS boys hang on, still unbeaten
By AUSTIN COLBERT
Not often does a team face a home court disadvantage, but that looked to be the case for the Hays High School boys' basketball team early against visiting Abilene on Tuesday.
Playing in their first home game since a 70-25 win over Great Bend on Jan. 14 -- a stretch of seven consecutive road contests -- the Indians tipped off in front of a loud and raucous student section and for the first four minutes looked like they were trying too hard to please the home crowd.
"I thought we played tight because the guys were trying so hard to show their appreciation by playing well and Abilene wasn't cooperating," Hays High boys' basketball coach Rick Keltner said. "So it took us a while to get going. These kind of games give kids a chance to show big hearts and make plays, and we had kids that made plays that we had to have."
Hays High, ranked No. 3 in Class 5A, overcame an early 9-2 deficit and five first-quarter turnovers to defeat Abilene (11-5), the No. 10 ranked team in Class 4A Division I, 68-60 at the HHS gym.
The win improved the Indians to 16-0 with four regular-season games remaining. Goddard Eisenhower, ranked No. 2 in 5A and a potential sub-state opponent of Hays High, fell for the first time this season on Tuesday, a 64-63 loss to Andover, No. 10 in 5A.
"They had more energy out there to start," Hays High senior guard Jordan Windholz said of Abilene. "They were running a guy baseline behind us and we weren't really talking. Basically we were kind of quiet, kind of sluggish, and as you saw once we picked it up we got it going."
Hays High ended the first quarter on a 14-6 run and took a one-point lead into the second quarter. A quick basket to start the second period gave Abilene a 17-16 lead, the Cowboys' final lead of the game.
The Indians' advantage reached as much as six points in the first half but thanks to a 3-pointer by Abilene's Keil Kelly in the final minute the Hays High lead was only 33-31 at the break.
"We went to the basket pretty weak a few times in the first half," Keltner said, with the emphasis on Hays High junior post man Brady Werth, who had six points at the half on 3 of 7 shooting. "He's almost too unselfish to a fault. There are times when we need him to assert himself inside and it will make our team better. I thought he did that in the second half."
Werth dominated after the break, scoring 16 second-half points to finish with 22 points and 10 rebounds. As impressive as Werth was, the Indians couldn't shake Abilene, which got as close as 46-44 with six minutes to play.
A 3-pointer by senior Kade Parker kick started an 8-0 Hays High run. In a matter of a couple of minutes the Indians' two-point lead turned into a game-high 12 at 60-48 with a little more than two minutes to play.
Kelly single-handedly kept Abilene in the game, scoring 10 points down the stretch in the fourth quarter before the Cowboys ran out of time. Hays High's final six points came from the free-throw line.
"I think he got in a groove. When a good player gets in a rhythm it's fun to watch -- unless you are trying to guard him," Keltner said of Kelly, who scored a game-high 24 points.
"These guys are high school kids. They are not professional players. They are going to make mistakes sometimes. I'm proud of them. I thought they played well."
Hays High senior Lane Clark and Windholz each finished in double figures with Werth, scoring 14 and 12 points, respectively.
The Indians will next host WAC rival Garden City on Friday, the third meeting between the teams this season. Hays High beat the Buffaloes 57-53 on Dec. 7 in the championship game of the Hays City Shootout and 47-33 on Jan. 17 in Garden City.
HHS girls remain winless, continue to improve
The Hays High School girls' basketball team couldn't keep Abilene off the foul line, and it cost them on Tuesday in a 59-48 loss to the Cowgirls.
"I thought we blocked out well but then we didn't jump to rebound, so they had a lot of second-chance shots that usually ended up in a foul," Hays High coach Kirk Maska said. "I'm guessing they won the game at the free-throw line, as many free throws as they shot."
Abilene, led by its 5-foot-11 sophomore Belle Barbieri, outrebounded Hays High 38-23 and made 23 of its 32 free-throw attempts en route to its 11-point victory. The Indians were 8 of 14 from the foul line.
The loss sends Hays High to 0-16 on the season, but the Indians continued to show improvement. Two games removed from an 83-19 loss at Salina Central, the top-ranked team in Class 5A, Hays High's 48 points is the second best total this season, the best coming in a 56-49 loss at Liberal on Friday.
"The girls were moving, which we hadn't done early in the year," Maska said. "They were getting open looks and were going up with confidence and making the shot. We kept edging back and could never get over that hump."
Hays High trailed Abilene 16-9 after a quarter, but a 12-4 run in the second quarter highlighted by a pair of 3-pointers from freshman Talyn Kleweno resulted in a 21-20 lead for the Indians late in the half.
Abilene led 26-23 at halftime.
Hays High trailed 42-33 in the opening moments of the fourth quarter before eight quick points by the Indians cut it to 42-41 with five minutes to play. However, any energy Hays High had remaining soon ran out and Abilene (8-8) was able to hold on for the 11-point victory.
"I was really proud of their effort," Maska said. "They are giving it everything we got. Maybe they ran out of gas a little bit in the fourth quarter, but their effort was perfect tonight."
Senior Haley Wells led Hays High with 13 points, while sophomore Audra Schmeidler added 10. Barbieri led all players with 22 points.
Hays High will host Garden City on Friday, a team it lost to 69-27 in Garden City on Jan. 17. Garden City is ranked No. 8 in Class 6A.
Game time is 6 p.m., and the boys' game to follow.
Hays High 68, Abilene 60
Keil Kelly 11-20 0-0 24, Jesse Patrick 4-12 3-7 12, Ryan Wilson 4-11 0-0 10, Harms 2-2 2-2 6, Goodwin 1-1 3-3 5, Hoekman 1-4 1-2 3, Schwarting 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 23-52 9-13 60.
HAYS HIGH (16-0)
Brady Werth 9-14 4-8 22, Lane Clark 4-8 3-4 14, Jordan Windholz 4-12 3-4 12, Nunnery 2-4 3-3 7, Riedel 3-4 0-0 6, Parker 1-4 1-3 4, Niernberger 1-2 1-2 3, Rounkles 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-49 15-24 68.
Abilene 15 16 9 20 -- 60
Hays High 16 17 12 23 -- 68
3-point goals -- Abilene 5, Hays High 5 (Clark 3). Rebounds -- Abilene 26, Hays High 28. Turnovers -- Abilene 12, Hays High 8. Fouls -- Abilene 16, Hays High 14. Fouled out -- Hoekman, Abilene.
Abilene 59, Hays High 48
Belle Barbieri 7-15 8-13 22, McKenzie Funston 5-11 6-6 17, Geist 1-7 5-6 8, Thompson 1-4 2-2 4, Taylor 2-6 0-2 4, Hayes 0-0 2-2 2, Anderes 1-2 0-1 2. Totals 17-45 23-32 59.
HAYS HIGH (0-16)
Haley Wells 4-8 4-7 13, Audra Schmeidler 4-11 0-0 10, Russell 3-7 1-2 9, Kleweno 3-5 0-0 8, Schlaefli 2-7 2-2 7, Dinkel 0-4 1-2 1, Schoendaller 0-2 0-1 0, George 0-1 0-0 0, Groen-Younger 0-1 0-0 0, Smith 0-5 0-0 0. Totals 16-51 8-14 48.
Abilene 16 10 14 19 -- 59
Hays High 9 14 10 15 -- 48
3-point goals -- Abilene 2-7, Hays High 8-22. Rebounds -- Abilene 38, Hays High 23. Turnovers -- Abilene 17, Hays High 14. Fouls -- Abilene 16, Hays High 22. Fouled out -- Russell, Hays High.