Indian boys take first loss, fall to Panthers


GREAT BEND -- Hays High School sophomore center Brady Werth had a good game. That was one of the only positives that came from Tuesday's loss at Great Bend.

The Indians got out hustled and struggled to find their shot, as they fell 48-40 on Tuesday at Great Bend.

"We got out scrapped several times on loose balls, and you've got to expect that," said Hays High head coach Rick Keltner. "When you go on the road and you're playing your arch rival and you're undefeated, you're going to get their best shot. They are going to play their tails off and play hard."

It ended one of the best starts in Hays High's recent history.

The Indians were one win away from a historic start. If they would have won, it would have been the first time the Indians were 8-0 in 42 years. Instead, Hays High dropped to 7-1 and 1-1 in the Western Athletic Conference and compromised for the best start in17 years.

Meanwhile, Great Bend registered just its second win of the season, improving to 2-5, 1-1 WAC.

Great Bend dominated the rebounding margin, finishing with 48 to Hays High's 34.

"There was a couple critical possessions where we flat got out hustled," Keltner said. "One was right in front of me. They had two guys dive on the floor for the ball, and we had two guys act like they were at an Easter egg hunt. We can't play that way."

It's not like Great Bend had massive size inside.

The Panthers leading rebounder was senior forward Ethan Henderson, who is 6 feet tall according to the program. Henderson grabbed 19 rebounds, breaking the Panthers' school record.

"It's one of my jobs as a player on this team to help out the team and be a physical player," Henderson said. "That's the role for me. I try to my best at it, and tonight, I think I did pretty good."

Keltner said his team has to get tougher inside.

"I had some guys early in the game saying they were over my back," he said. "That is what every guy in the world who is getting his butt kicked says."

Werth was solid for Hays High. He scored 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting. He also grabbed 12 rebounds and recorded eight blocks.

But other than him, HHS didn't get much production.

Not counting Werth, Hays High finished 8 of 42 from the field and 3 of 27 from the 3-point line, as Great Bend hunkered down in its zone double teaming Werth.

"They were kind of daring us to shoot (3-pointers)," Keltner said. "They stayed in a zone all night. We had looks."

Only one other player than Werth posted more than one field goal, and that was junior point guard Jordan Windholz.

Windholz scored six points, but he wasn't efficient doing so. He finished 3 of 13, going 0 for 10 from beyond the arc.

"We just didn't show up tonight to play like we know how to play," said senior small forward Derek Bixenman, who was the third highest scorer with four points.

Keltner said his squad should have expected this type of game.

"When you go on the road and you're playing your arch rival and you're undefeated, you're going to get their best shot," he said. "They are going to play their tails off and play hard."

Henderson and senior guard Matt Marshall led Great Bend with 12 points apiece.

Though it was far from Hays High's best game, the Indians had chances to win it late.

Hays High erased a nine-point, third-quarter deficit and tied it with 3:34 remaining in the fourth quarter on a Windholz underhand layup.

However, Great Bend answered with a 6-0 run by creating turnovers, tightening down on defense and cranking out offensive board after offensive board.

"They were just stronger," Werth said. "They were working harder. We didn't have our game tonight."

Nevertheless, the Indians came back again with a heavy dose of Werth, feeding him inside for three consecutive field goals to tie it at 40 with 1:30 remaining.

However, Great Bend attacked the basket and forced Hays High fouls. Then the Panthers took advantage, going 8 of 10 from the free throw line in the final 90 seconds.

Then Hays High, like the rest of the game, couldn't make any long-range shots to narrow the gap.

"We had a chance to win the game, but then we missed shots," Keltner said.