Indian girls snap 3-game skid
By NICK McQUEEN
In terms of wins and losses, Friday's game between the Hays High School girls' basketball team and Western Athletic Conference foe Liberal might have looked evenly matched.
Hays High, though, felt like it was the better team, and proved it by snapping a 3-game losing skid with a 57-31 victory against the Redskins in a game that was never really close. The Indians jumped out to a 7-0 lead.
"They felt like they were the better team, and we came out confident," Indian coach Kirk Maska said of his club, which was coming off a 69-36 drubbing at the hands of Salina Central on Tuesday. "We missed a lot of layups early, but we were getting open shots and they eventually started falling.
"I was pleased with the number of assists we had tonight, the way we moved tonight," he added.
The shots especially were falling for forward Katelyn Schumacher. The 5-foot-9 senior went inside-out to score a game-high 23 points, hitting 9-of-14 from the field. She hit all but one of her attempts in the second quarter, scoring 10 points to help Hays High (7-9 overall, 3-2 WAC) blow open the game. After leading 12-4 after one quarter, the Indians exploded to lead 23-8 halfway through the second.
"We had some nice passes," Maska said. "Megan Bird, Kaitlin Gulley, Janae Gagnon, April Johnson -- they all had really nice passes.
"It was kind of nice to see our guards step up and handle the ball," he added.
Albeit Hays High handled the ball against minimal pressure from a struggling Liberal club, the Indians had just three turnovers in the first half, and had just four until the point where Maska cleared his bench late. The Indians finished with nine.
"When we're not turning the ball over, we just feel better," Maska said. "When we start turning it over, people start to make faces and we start to get down a little bit. I was pleased with the way the girls came out and played."
Liberal's two biggest threats, 5-7 junior guard Jai Chapman and 6-1 senior Marisol Regalado, were held in check all night. With Hays High leading 31-13 by halftime, Chapman (16 points per-game average) had just one point. She missed all seven of her shot attempts and was 1 of 2 at the free-throw line. She struggled against the defense of senior Taylor Herman and Johnson.
"Taylor was long on her- and April really came in and made her work a little bit harder as far as getting open," Maska said. "I was pleased with the way they guarded, but we still haven't figured out how we can keep Marisol off the blocks.
"She catches on the blocks, you know where it's going to go and usually it's going in," he added.
Regalado had all six of Liberal's nine second-quarter points, and scored eight in the game. Chapman finished with 11 with a pair of 3s in the second half, and four fourth-quarter free throws.
Meanwhile, Hays High got a No. 2 punch out of Gagnon, who made her first four shots, then finished 6 of 8 from the field to add 13 points.
"After the Salina South game (Jan. 29), we were playing to our abilities, and then came back against Salina Central, it was just. ... ugh," Maska said. "If we play like we did tonight and against South, we can play with anyone we have left and go into sub-state with a realistic chance."
The Indians have an outside shot in the WAC as well, with frontrunner Garden City now 5-0 in league play. The Indians are on the road at Abilene on Tuesday, the first of three straight on the road. Hays High then has WAC Garden City, Dodge City and Great Bend.