HHS boys win TOC opener
By AUSTIN COLBERT
DODGE CITY — Hays High School’s Brady Werth took one shot in the first quarter against Hutchinson on Thursday in the opening round of the 71st annual Tournament of Champions, hosted by Dodge City High School.
The shot was a rare 3-pointer for the 6-foot-7 junior that clanked harmlessly off the rim. It wasn’t until the opening possession of the second quarter the Indians started to look for Werth in the post, and that’s when good things started to happen.
Werth had six points by halftime, just a prelude to what would come over the final two quarters.
“I guess we just need to give him the ball sooner,” Hays High senior guard Lane Clark said. “As you can tell, we give him the ball, we get ahead quick.”
Werth scored 20 in the second half to finish with a season-best 26 points to go with 12 rebounds and four blocked shots in a 62-41 win for the Indians over Hutch (3-7) at United Wireless Arena.
The win advances Hays High, now 10-0 and ranked No. 3 in Class 5A, into the winner’s bracket of the TOC. The Indians will play Class 6A Manhattan at 7 p.m. on Friday in the tournament semifinals. Unranked Manhattan is coming off a 55-46 overtime win over Wichita Heights, No. 5 in 5A, on Thursday.
“In the first quarter we weren’t looking inside; we were rushing things. As the game progressed we did a better job of looking at our post,” Hays High coach Rick Keltner said. “We beat a good team here today. I thought Brady, once we started looking at him, being a little more patient, he took advantage of his opportunities.”
The game started slow for both teams. It took nearly two minutes of play before a Kade Parker 3-pointer gave Hays High a 3-0 lead. The Indians led 14-9 after the first quarter thanks to a trio of 3-pointers.
Hays High opened the second quarter on a 10-2 run, six of those points coming from Werth. The Indians led by 13 points at one point and took a 29-19 lead into the locker room.
At the half the Indians were 8 of 8 from the foul line, while Hutch had yet to attempt a free throw.
“We started slow. Some of the turnovers were forced,” Werth said of the first half. “At halftime (Keltner) said we needed to get me the ball and look inside, that it would open up the outside, too. But the first quarter we definitely weren’t working the inside game.”
The second half didn’t start much better. It took nearly three minutes for either team to score, in this case a basket by Hutchinson. From there Hays High was able to keep the Salthawks at arms length and led 40-30 going into the fourth quarter.
Hutch made a run over the first few minutes of the final quarter, cutting Hays High’s lead to six points at 45-39 with 5:06 to play. But the final five minutes belonged to Werth and the Indians.
“I’m sure all coaches say this, but it’s a game of runs,” Keltner said. “They had a good run on us and then we had a good run. It’s kind of the way the game goes sometimes.”
Hays High turned a six-point game into a 21-point win over the final five minutes, finally putting away a Salthawk team the Indians couldn’t seem to fully separate from over the first three quarters.
Clark finished with 14 points, going 4 of 5 from 3-point range, the only player in double figures for the Indians outside of Werth’s 26 points. Hays High finished 19 of 22 from the free-throw line, while Hutch was 5 of 10.
Senior Kalen Hilst led the Salthawks with 15 points.
“They were scrappy. It was a different kind of game. We needed some competition and they gave it to us,” Clark said. “It feels good. We needed this to maybe give us some momentum going into the second game.”
Hays High 62, Hutchinson 41
Hays High (10-0)
Brady Werth 8-12 10-11 26, Lane Clark 5-8 4-5 14, Niernberger 0-2 6-7 6, Windholz 2-9 0-0 6, Parker 2-5 0-0 5, Nunnery 0-1 3-4 3, Riedel 1-2 0-0 2, Rounkles 0-0 0-0 0, Berens 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-39 19-22 62.
Kalen Hilst 6-11 0-0 15, Wells 2-9 3-4 8, Parra 2-7 0-0 5, Webster 2-5 0-0 5, Stoecklien 2-5 0-0 4, Arnold 1-3 0-0 2, Norman 0-0 1-2 1, Tolbert 0-1 1-2 1, Howard 0-1 0-0 0, Fee 0-0 0-0 0, McQueen 0-0 0-2 0. Totals 15-42 5-10 41.
Hays High 14 15 11 22 — 62
Hutchinson 9 10 11 11 — 41
3-point goals — Hays High 7-18 (Clark 4-5), Hutch 6-16 (Hilst 3-6). Rebounds— Hays High 28 (Werth 12), Hutch 26 (Wells 6). Fouls — Hays High 11, Hutch 21. Fouled out — Wells, Hutch. Turnovers — Hays High 10, Hutch 14.