Hays High girls suffer WAC road loss
By KLINT SPILLER
GREAT BEND -- The opening and closing acts of Tuesday's girls basketball game at Great Bend were pretty much identical.
Great Bend made Hays High School's guards look confused with its full-court press, forcing the Indians' offense to disappear as Great Bend won 54-40.
"The pressure they put on us, we didn't handle it well," said Hays High head coach Kirk Maska.
"We wanted to not play fast with them, and we continued to try and play fast with them. And they were the better team tonight."
The Indians dropped to 4-4 and 1-1 in the Western Athletic Conference.
Great Bend (4-3, 1-1 WAC) started the game off with a 15-2 run and outscored the Indians by 11 at the end of the first quarter. Hays High played catch up from then on and was successful at it, pulling within one point with a little less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
However, their rally was stymied in the fourth quarter, as Hays High struggled to get the ball up the court and, when the Indians did, they couldn't get it in the basket, going more than six minutes without a point.
In that time, Great Bend went on a similar run as the first quarter and pulled away with a double-digit lead.
"I'll give (Great Bend head coach Carrie Minton) credit," Maska said. "She has them ready, and they play with energy and excitement. We have to find that."
Hays High committed 27 turnovers in the game -- 16 of which came in first and fourth quarters.
"It was really frustrating tonight, because we knew we had a big height advantage," said Hays High senior forward Katelyn Schumacher. "If we didn't get it across, we knew it would be tough to score."
Schumacher led the Indians with a double-double, scoring 11 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, but it was difficult to get her the ball.
The Panthers' pressure made it hard for Hays High's guards to move the ball up the court, and when they did, Schumacher garnered much of Great Bend's attention.
"I tried to be tough down there, because most of the time when I did get the ball down there, there was two or three girls on me," Schumacher said.
Senior guards Janae Gagnon and Kaitlin Gulley also reached double figures, scoring 10 points apiece, and senior forward Taylor Herman finished with six points and eight rebounds.
Great Bend also had three players reach double-digit scoring. Junior forward Morgan Harwood posted 14 points and 11 rebounds, both team highs, and juniors Tarynn Stueder and Kaylie Doll added 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Great Bend finished 18 of 44 from the field and 13 of 24 from the free throw line.
"We knew they'd be quick," Schumacher said. "I think we just tried to quicken our pace, and we needed to slow it down against a team that is quick paced. They live off of fast breaks."
After the bad first quarter, Maska switched to a 1-3-1 zone defense, and initially, it seemed to work. Great Bend struggled in the second quarter, allowing Hays High to turn a 14-point deficit into just a two-point gap.
"We switched to a zone, and I'm sure they weren't ready for it," Maska said. "We haven't played zone in my four years here. I think it threw them for a little bit of a loop. We got some rebounds and made some shots on the other end."
But then Great Bend adjusted and scored 30 points combined in the third and fourth quarters.
Meanwhile, Hays High had its disastrous fourth-quarter lull. The Indians missed their first nine shots and committed eight turnovers -- five in the first two minutes of the quarter.
"It's one thing when they are physical mistakes, but we make so many mistakes right now that we've worked on -- mental mistakes," Maska said. "I just hope it bothers them enough that they show up tomorrow excited and ready to go."
The loss was especially demoralizing since it was Hays High's rival.
"It was really disappointing," Schumacher said. "We came out really aggressive. We were hoping to take it and win."
The Indians concluded their first multi-game road trip of the season with a 1-1 split, and Maska hopes the team will right itself in its two-game homestand against Garden City (8-1, 3-0 WAC) on Friday and Dodge City (2-4, 0-1) on Tuesday.
"Garden City, they are on a roll," Maska said. "They only have one loss, but I think we match up a lot better against Garden City as far as height-wise and speed-wise. It'll be another challenge for us, but that's why we play the game."