The Hays High School boys’ and girls’ basketball teams tipped off their seasons Thursday night in the Gerald Mitchell Hays City Shootout against Class 6A Olathe North.
The HHS girls took advantage of a 22-point first quarter, leading wire to wire to beat the Eagles 51-30.
The Hays High boys struggled early but battled throughout the first half; however, a stellar third quarter from Olathe North vaulted the Eagles over the Indians, 93-76.
Savannah Schneider led the way for the HHS girls with 19 points. She was adamant that her team came out ready to play.
“I think we were just so prepared, and we knew we had such great potential and we worked really hard over the past two weeks that we’ve been in practice and we knew that we really wanted this,” she said. “We knew we wanted to be good, and I think this really just boosted our confidence a lot.”
The Indians opened the game on a blazing pace. In the blink of an eye, they were up 11-2, only two and a half minutes into the game. They continued to keep up the fast pace during the first quarter and closed with six straight points, five of those coming from sophomore Tasiah Nunnery — which extended the lead to 22-6 at the end of the first quarter.
Olathe North was finally able to find some success offensively in the second quarter, scoring 10 points. The Eagles were able to get some defensive stops as they were only outscored by one point in the quarter.
But it wasn’t nearly enough to make up for the first quarter, as the game never was in question and the Indians extend their lead to 33-16 at halftime.
The Olathe North defense only allowed six points in the third quarter, but they were only able to add four of their own, bringing the score to 39-20 at the end of the third quarter.
Sophomore Brooke Denning hit her third 3-pointer of the game to open the fourth quarter for HHS (1-0). And Mattie Hutchison would add another one moments later before the reserves were brought in midway through the quarter.
Hays High would add nine more points in the fourth quarter to finish with the 21-point win.
HHS coach Kirk Maska was proud of his team.
“We played together and ran the floor,” he said. “We’re pretty athletic this year, and I think that’s going to be a strong suit as far as getting off to fast starts. As long as we’re passing the ball, making four or five passes, we’re going to get some easy layups and some good shots.
“We kind of ran out of gas a little bit there in the second quarter, but that’ll come.”
The 3-point shooting ability of Denning and Hutchison helps the team, Maska said.
“It does help a bunch, and tomorrow night it could be Isabel, Tasiah or Kallie and Savannah,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of good shooters. It’s always a plus to hit the 3, and we’re going to be good at it because everybody that we’re going to have on the court can shoot ’em.”
The one thing the Indians are looking to work on after the performance is turnovers, as they were in double digits by the end of the game. But Maska said those can be fixed.
“The good thing is most of the turnovers were our fault,” he said. “It wasn’t something that they did to us.”
The Olathe North Boys wasted no time in the opening of the game, jumping ahead 8-2 over Hays High in the first quarter. The Indians (0-1) battled back to tie the game at 8, but the Eagles quickly jumped out ahead once again as they went on a 16-4 run, and then a 9-2 run bringing their lead to 13 before extending it to 40-23.
But the Indians came charging back, and thanks to 3-pointers from Peyton Kieffer and Tradgon McCrae, the Indians were only down by eight at halftime.
Olathe North took over in the third quarter, exploding for 30 points while holding Hays High to only 14. The Eagles never looked back as they coasted to the victory.
HHS coach Rick Keltner knew coming into the game it would be a tough test for his squad after losing a handful of starters from last year’s team.
“You know, we’re trying to play fast,” he said. “Our JV won four games last year, and most of our scorers graduated. We did get Ethan Nunnery back this year after coming back from a knee surgery, but we knew coming in we’d show some inexperience at times.”
Keltner said the goal this year for his team is to get numerous shots from the field.
“We want to try to get 75 to 80 shots a game, and we only got 63 tonight — and 40 of them might have been 3’s,” he said. “We did have some great effort though, and we had some great possessions. But I thought our guys battled and we just have to keep getting better.”