HHS boys win at Garden City
By BRETT MARSHALL
Special to The Daily News
GARDEN CITY -- When the Garden City High School boys' basketball team met Hays High's Indians in the Dec. 7, 2013, championship game of the Hays City Shootout, it was an all-Indians domination in the first half.
In the second half of that title game, though, the Indians went cold, both in shooting from the field and at the free throw line, but somehow managed to hold on for a 57-53 victory.
Friday night at The Garden, when the two Western Athletic Conference rivals met in a league game, things seemed eerily similar, but then oh so different.
The result was a 47-33 Indians' triumph that kept them unbeaten in nine games and saw them improve to 3-0 in the WAC, setting the stage for the Jan. 31 showdown at Dodge City. Before that, though, the Indians head to Boot Hill where they open play on Thursday in the prestigious Dodge City Tournament of Champions against Hutchinson.
In the somewhat similar aspects of the December game, the Indians got the hot hand from 3-point range in the first half, knocking down five treys, including three by senior Jordan Windholz and one each by seniors Kade Parker and Lane Clark.
When Windholz cashed in his third trifecta in four attempts with just 0:02 left in the first half, the Indians had given themselves a little breathing room, leading 22-14. That came after they had trailed 12-8 in the low-scoring affair, due mainly to a deliberate offensive ploy by Garden City.
"We have so much respect for Garden City because we know they are well-coached and they play hard," said HHS coach Rick Keltner. "This is a tough place to play."
When the Indians saw a big lead disappear in December, Keltner had to look no further than the free throw line for reasons. They missed 20 charities in that game, many of the bonus variety in the second half.
"Tonight, I don't have to say that again (about missed free throws)," Keltner said.
The Indians were better at the free throw stripe, making 13-of-20 (65.5 percent) and kept the Buffs on the line where they were only 3-of-6. HHS finished with only eight fouls.
"We just played better basketball," Keltner said. "We answered their run (in the second half). It's about kids making plays."
Indeed, Garden came back out after halftime and made a run at the Indians, closing to 30-26 by the end of the third quarter, limiting the Indians to just 8 points once again.
"There will be times where our team needs to be patient on offense, and tonight was one of those," Keltner said. "I thought our defense stayed with it and our depth definitely helped us."
Garden City's Tristan Nanninga opened the fourth with a running baseline jumper to start the fourth quarter, pulling the Buffs to within two at 30-28. But that was the last time they would be within shouting distance of the Indians.
Hays High got a thunderous slam dunk from junior Brady Werth on an inbounds play under its own basket, Windholz then knocked down his fourth 3-pointer and Werth scored on a outback shot. That brief 6-0 run was interrupted by a single free throw by Nanninga before the Indians had another 6-0 stretch, making it 43-29 with 1:29 remaining.
That final eight minutes produced a 17-7 spark that enabled the Indians to head home with another impressive performance.
"They tried to take Brady away inside, so when that happens, we have to have our outside guys knock shots down, and they did that," Keltner said.
Werth did finish with 13 points, sharing high-point honors with Clark, who was a perfect 6-of-6 at the free throw line, all coming in the second half. Windholz added 12 to the balanced attack, with all of them coming on those deadly treys, where he was 4-of-9 in the game.
"We can get a lot better," Keltner said when assessing his team's performance. "We're not complicated. We just try to win the day, that's all we focus on."
Hays High 47, Garden City 33
Hays High (47) -- Niernberger 0-2 2-2 2, Nunnery 1-2 0-0 2, Riedl 0-1 2-2 2, Hobson 0-0 0-2 0, Windholz 4-12 0-0 12, Clark 3-8 6-6 13, Rounkles 0-1 0-2 0, Werth 5-8 3-6 13, Parker 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 14-36 13-20 47.
Garden City (33) -- Tramp 1-4 1-2 3, Delgado 2-8 0-0 5, Olivas 0-4 0-0 0, Koster 0-2 1-2 1, Hernandez 3-4 0-0 9, Nanninga 4-6 1-2 9, Rodriguez 3-4 0-0 6, Parr 0-0 0-0 0, Love 0-0 0-0 0, Rincones 0-0 0-0 0, Gurrola 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 13-32 3-6 33.
Hays High 8 14 8 17 -- 47
Garden City 12 2 12 7 -- 33
3-point goals -- Hays 6-19 (Niernberger 0-2, Nunnery 0-1, Riedl 0-1, Windholz 4-9, Clark 1-5, Parker 1-1), Garden City 4-12 (Tramp 0-1, Delgado 1-3, Olivas 0-4, Koster 0-1, Hernandez 3-3).
Rebounds --Hays 21 (Werth 6), Garden City 25 (Rodriguez 10). Turnovers--Hays 8, Garden City 14. Fouls--Hays 8, Garden City 14. Fouled out--none.