Indian boys cling to win, girls fall to 0-5
By AUSTIN COLBERT
JUNCTION CITY -- Standing at the free-throw line with 35 seconds to play, his team trailing by a point to Junction City on Tuesday, Hays High School senior Jordan Windholz was hoping for better results than his previous two trips to the line. He had gone 1 of 4 five minutes earlier on back-to-back attempts with the Indians down by two points.
"I was just praying that they'd go in," Windholz said. "I was like, 'Come on, just like practice.' And I finally just calmed down a little bit and thankfully I made them."
It was a late steal by Windholz and those free throws that made the difference in a 46-45 win for the Hays High boys' basketball team in its first road game. The win gets the Indians to 5-0 with a long holiday break ahead of them.
The late-game dramatics all came after the Indians, ranked No. 4 in Class 5A, had built a 13-point lead midway through the third quarter.
"There were times I thought if we could have just strung a few plays together we could maybe take their hope away," Hays High coach Rick Keltner said.
"These kids have big hearts and they are going to battle all the way through."
The Indians, who averaged 70.5 points a game coming in and scored 86 last time out against Colby, had 20 points at halftime.
They scored 13 in the first quarter and only seven points in the second quarter.
Uncharacteristic turnovers by Hays High led to the relatively low score. The Indians led 20-13 at halftime.
"I'm very proud of what we did defensively. We are a gritty team," Junction City coach Pat Battle said. "Hays is a good team. They are an experienced team, and they find ways to win. It's one of those deals. It's early in the season. This doesn't define us and it doesn't define them."
Hays High exploded out of the gate in the second half, pushing its lead to 28-15 after back-to-back 3-pointers by seniors Kade Parker and Lane Clark. Clark missed the majority of the second quarter after receiving a blow to the head that left him bloodied.
Before the Indians could put the game out of reach, Junction City (2-2) stormed back. A flurry of points to end the third quarter, including a jumper by Jonathan Wilds at the buzzer, cut the lead to four points heading into the fourth.
Danny Thornton hit a 3-pointer to open the final quarter for Junction City, and Wilds' steal and layup soon after gave the Blue Jays their first lead of the game at 33-32.
The Indians trailed 44-40 with 2:33 to play after a basket and free throw by Junction City's Ja'Male Morrow. Hays High junior Brady Werth responded with a pair of free throws at the other end to cut the deficit to two points.
After Junction City went 1 of 2 from the foul line, Werth got a quick bucket to make it 45-44 Blue Jays with 52.1 seconds to play.
Hays High decided to give its defense a crack at the turnover, and it paid off when Windholz stepped in front of a pass near midcourt and was immediately fouled with 35 seconds to play.
"I just attacked the ball and was thankful I got there," said Windholz, who finished with eight points. "I was just excited. I was like, 'Oh my God, I got the ball. All right, slow down a little bit. Just get it together.' I was pretty excited."
Windholz then redeemed himself from earlier missed free throws, making both attempts to give the Indians the lead back. After a Junction City timeout with 15 seconds to play, the Indians' defense did the rest, preventing the Blue Jays from getting a shot off in the final seconds to hold on for the win.
Werth led all players with 22 points, while Parker added 11 for the Indians. Wilds led Junction City with 16 points, 13 of which came in the second half.
"We went on the road and played a tough team on their court and played well enough to get out of there," Keltner said. "I think it's great because you can't buy that kind of experience."
The Indians are off for break and won't play again until Jan. 7, when they travel to Pratt.
Girls fall short of Junction City
Despite a 50-32 loss to Junction City on Tuesday that sent the Hays High School girls' basketball team to 0-5, coach Kirk Maska saw enough improvement to remain hopeful his young team will find its way this season.
"I thought we played pretty well on defense. They hit two threes to start the game and got us a little bit in a hole, but we hung close with them," Maska said. "I got to give it to them. They made free throws at the end and we don't make free throws. The things that need fixing we can fix."
After trailing 9-2, Hays High clawed its way back to a two-point deficit at 10-8. The Indians trailed 18-12 after a quarter and 30-19 at halftime.
Hays High outscored Junction City 5-4 in the third quarter, but couldn't make up enough ground. The Blue Jays responded with a 16-point fourth quarter to pull away for the win.
Audra Schmeidler, a 5-foot-9 sophomore, was a shining spot for the Indians. She led all players with 19 points -- the best individual scoring output for an Indian this season -- including 13 in the first half.
No one else scored more than five points for Hays High.
"Audra is one where she can drive, she can play inside and she can shoot the ball outside," Maska said. "Right now she gets a little tired. We probably need to rest her a little bit more. But she's a good shooter and we got to get her up to the speed of a varsity game. Because she is probably a 20-point scorer for us and we need to get her there."
Kealee Rains led Junction City with 16 points, while A'Kia Fain had 15.
The Indians are off until they travel to Pratt on Jan. 7.
Hays High 46
Junction City 45
Hays High (5-0)
Brady Werth 8-14 6-6 22, Kade Parker 3-4 2-2 11, Windholz 2-8 3-6 8, Clark 1-4 0-0 3, Niernberger 0-1 2-2 2, Riedel 0-2 0-0 0, Nunnery 0-3 0-4 0
Junction City (2-2)
Jonathan Wilds 6-13 0-0 16, Ja'Male Morrow 4-4 3-6 11, Thornton 3-8 0-0 7, Lueker 2-3 0-2 4, Adkins 1-4 0-0 3, Johnson 1-4 0-0 2, Long 1-2 0-0 2, Lawrence 0-6 0-0 0, Fears 0-1 0-0 0
Hays High 13 7 12 14 -- 46
Junction City 6 7 15 17 -- 45
3-point goals -- Hays High 5-13 (Parker 3), Junction City 6-17 (Wilds 4)
Junction City 50
Hays High 32
Hays High (0-5)
Audra Schmeidler 7-13 3-6 19, Peckham 0-1 5-6 5, Schoendaller 1-2 3-6 5, Dinkel 0-2 2-5 2, Smith 0-1 1-2 1, Groen-Younger 0-1 0-1 0, Becker 0-1 0-0 0, Schlaefli 0-3 0-0 0, Wells 0-6 0-1 0
Kealee Rains 5-14 4-5 16, A'Kia Fain 3-8 8-8 15, Russell 2-2 2-2 6, Meadows 2-5 0-0 4, Gamble 1-1 1-4 3, Kamm 0-4 2-2 2, Dixon 1-3 0-0 2, Craft 0-0 2-2 2, Shane 0-1 0-0 0, Waterman 0-1 0-1 0, McKenzie 0-1 0-0 0
Hays High 12 7 5 8 -- 32
Junction City 18 12 4 16 -- 50
3-point goals -- Hays High 2-11 (Schmeidler 2), Junction City 3-12 (Rains 2)